Restaurant Relief Fund Swamped by Aid Requests

At Bonefish Grill in Cary, and at restaurants across the state, dining rooms have closed. To help the thousands of hospitality workers who are out of work, a relief fund has been set up by the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Thousands of North Carolina restaurant and hotel workers are unable to work right now, and they are hurting.

The N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association responded by launching the N.C. Restaurant Workers Relief Fund a few weeks ago, and it was soon overwhelmed by requests for help. Announced March 25, the fund received more than 15,000 applications for aid, and organizers have had to stop accepting new requests for help.

Steve Thanhauser

“Within a matter of days, we have seen the majority of workers in the hospitality industry laid off, furloughed or completely sidelined,” said Steve Thanhauser, NCRLA chairman and co-owner of Raleigh’s Angus Barn Steakhouse, when the fund was announced.

“While we are all facing an uncertain financial future, these workers are living a harsh new reality immediately.”

So far, 532 grant recipients have received $255,000 so the average relief is just under $500 per person. The amount given to each is based on demonstrated need, the number of years worked in the hospitality industry, and employer’s verification. More payouts will go out in the coming days and weeks.

The fund has raised about $500,000. Major donors include Brooks Bell and Coastal Credit Union Foundation at $100,000 each and the Truist Foundation at $50,000, but the majority of donations have come from thousands of concerned citizens.

“The need is still great,” said Margo Metzger, NCRLA’s Director of Communication. “We are actively fundraising to try to help as many folks as possible.”

Organizers are asking for donations to help these vulnerable workers afford basic necessities.  Click here to find out how you can donate.

“We want to show compassion and give help to those people who have taken care of us so many times,” said Michele Stone, president of The Stone Agency, the strategic marketing firm which partnered with NCRLA to organize the statewide fund.

The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association is the trade association behind N.C.’s $23.5 billion hospitality industry. The NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund is run through the NCRLA Foundation, the association’s long-standing nonprofit arm, which has provided financial assistance to hospitality employees and students for more than a decade. 

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