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Restaurant Relief Fund Aims to Support Workers


Celebrity chef Guy Fieri is leading a nationwide fundraising drive for the Restaurant Relief America campaign.

Full-service restaurant transactions declined by 71 percent for the week ending March 22, while in the QSR segment—despite having more off-premises business—that decrease was 34 percent compared to a year ago. These are latest numbers from research firm NPD Group and they’re a harsh but not unexpected result of mandated restaurant dining room closures across the country.

According to NPD’s restaurant location database, ReCount, about 94 percent of U.S. restaurants are under some level of restrictions, with most prohibiting on-premises service. Faced with layoffs and reduced hours, restaurant workers are in need of financial assistance, prompting the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to create a Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. With support from celebrity chef Guy Fieri, who is leading a nationwide fundraising drive with his Restaurant Relief America campaign, and a collection of founding partners, 100 percent of funds raised will go to impacted restaurant workers.

“Early estimates indicate that as many as 5 to 7 million restaurant workers may lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis, and many already have,” said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF. “In the face of this pandemic, we are asking the nation to join us in protecting vulnerable restaurant workers through your generous financial support.”

Starting April 2, impacted restaurant workers will be able to apply online for a one-time, $500 check to use toward housing, transportation, utilities, child care, groceries, medical bills and/or student loans. The grants will be administered by the NRAEF and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Fieri, the chef and restaurateur known for “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” said he’s spent his entire career in restaurants, “from bussing tables to flambé captain to dishwasher to chef.”

“I’ve also spent the better part of the last 15 years traveling this great country meeting other folks who’ve dedicated their lives to this business, and let me tell you something, they are the hardest working, most real deal workers you’ve ever met … the heartbeats of their communities,” he said in an announcement of the fund. “But they need our help, and with Restaurant Relief America, we can serve up some support when these restaurant employees need it most … right now."

Donate online at rerf.us

Restaurant Employee Relief Fund Founding Partners


Uber Eats

Constellation Brands

Moët Hennessy USA



Boston Beer Company

Shift4 Payments

P&G Professional

The Elliot Group

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Light Foundation

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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