Restaurants and bars throughout Portland have been forced to close their doors, or severely limit services to takeout and delivery, due to restrictions to control the COVID-19 outbreak. With the closures, many food service workers are losing out on wages or being being laid off entirely. And while concerned folks can support restaurants by ordering takeout or buying giftcards, it does not always assist those out of work.
Until the time (hopefully) comes for a federal or state bailout of some sort for restaurant workers, there are a number of grassroots organizations and fundraising efforts in Portland to help displaced workers find financial stability or at least a free meal. This list includes established organizations and community efforts to support the industry as whole, as well as restaurant-specific funds that can assist displaced staffs.
Food service support programs
This virtual tip jar is helmed by Jacqi Ko of Hey Love. Cooks, bartenders, servers, baristas, dishwashers and anyone who has lost their jobs due to closures or restaurant restrictions can share their info and payment method of choice (Venmo, Cash App, PayPal, etc.) to be added to a list of folks seeking financial help to cover lost wages. Those who want to donate can check out the compiled list.
A volunteer-based online network, this program provides a platform where those in-need can sign-up to request food assistance or financial support. People able to lend a hand can donate through GoFundMe and volunteer to offer support. The group is prioritizing assistance to folks who are sick, unhoused, disabled, quarantined without pay, immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.
Family Meal is a nonprofit designed to help food service and agricultural workers during a medical debt crisis. Anyone who has lost wages due to COVID-19 can apply for financial assistance through the nonprofit’s relief grant program. Those looking to help can set-up a one-time or monthly donation to support its efforts.
Food industry creatives Kari Young and Dana Alley of the new agency BALABUUSTA created a beautiful ‘Team Portland’ tote bag along with artist Julie Rovegno. The totes are being sold at select New Seasons Markets for $10 each, with 75-percent of the proceeds from each purchase distributed through Family Meal, and the remaining 25-percent covering the cost of production.
This is a coalition of local businesses offering a discounted rate on gift certificates. Patrons can purchase a card to use later to support their favorite restaurant or coffee shop. Businesses looking to get included can reach out on the website.
Restaurant Specific GoFundMe accounts
A slew of GoFundMe campaigns have been launched in the past week to assist staff at restaurants that are facing indefinite closure or limited hours and have been forced to lay-off employees.
Neighborhood favorite Scottie’s Pizza Parlor has been forced to close, and employees of the parlor are raising money to support themselves and pay bills while out of work.
At least 25 shows will have to be canceled or rescheduled as this concert venue and watering hole due to crowd restrictions. Money is being raised for staff who are out of work, prioritizing those who do not qualify for unemployment benefits.
A vegan-friendly cafe in the Alberta Arts district, Cafe Gertrude has turned to GoFundMe to support its workers as business slows and dining-in has been suspended.
One of the city’s last remaining queer bars, Crush Bar was forced to close and its unionized employees staged a sit-in for accrued paid-time-off hours. The union is asking for money to support its members who are now all out of work.
This sports bar and grill in Hillsboro is looking to raise $300 for each of its 30 employees who are effectively laid off. None of the proceeds will go to management.
Casual neighborhood bar Peter’s Bar and Grill is effectively closed, and a concerned patron set up a GoFundMe on the staff’s behalf as thanks for its service to the local community.
A beloved dive bar amongst the neighborhood and service industry workers, Mad Hanna has always had a “pay-it-forward” program for drinks and food. Now closed indefinitely, its owners have set up a fundraiser to pay the staff while they’re out of work.
Nick Zukin, owner of the casual, popular Mexican spot Mi Mero Mole, originally intended to set this up as a city-wide fundraiser for workers who would be unqualified for unemployment wages. However the rash of closings meant it was untenable. The fundraiser will go directly to these unemployed workers, and Zukin urges people to donate rather than buy a gift card.
This fundraiser was set up by the brother of the owner of this little breakfast cafe. He’s hoping to keep the restaurant afloat and workers employed through the coming weeks as the business continues to provide takeout.
This stylish new cocktail bar with serious veteran talent opened up just this year and is now shuttered. The staff are looking for financial relief in the coming days as any unemployment checks won’t cut it.
While this lauded local group of coffee roasters and cafes struggles to maintain its retail shops amidst the pandemic, many of its employees are out of work. This GoFundMe account looks to help baristas and food services who are nearly or entirely out of work.
A little neighborhood salon, Sinnott’s is closed for at least the next month, and a fundraiser has been set up to raise money for the employees who will be out of work for the foreseeable future.
One of Portland’s most popular food carts, owner Han Hwang has set up this account to pay his employees while the cart is closed. All support is promised to his two cooks.
A well-loved pizzeria in NE Portland, Handsome Pizza is open for takeout and delivery, but had to lay off 15 of its staff like many other places. An account to raise money for these hopefully temporarily unemployed workers has been set up.
An employee at North Portland gastropub Swift and Union is trying to raise money for herself and coworkers to cover rent and essential livings costs while they are unemployed.
The folks behind NE’s Aussie coffeeshop Proud Mary Coffee are raising money for their staff to cover losses that unemployment relief cannot match. 100-percent of tips will go toward the cafe staff.
The owners of Northwest Italian restaurant Caffe Mingo set up this fundraiser to support their staff during the temporary layoffs.
The owners of eccentric bar Creepy’s and music venue White Owl Social Club are raising money to support 30-plus employees who have lost their jobs. Donations are being split between bartenders, bar backs, kitchen, security, and office workers. $20 donations earn folks a drink ticket to be used on the other side of the temporary closure.
This craft brewery over in Hillsboro was forced to layoff the 65 employees that keep its restaurant and brewing operation running. Donations will be divided equitably to employees to help them weather the storm.
Mississippi Pizza Pub is open for pick up and delivery during COVID-19 restaurant restrictions and plans on staying that way, but available working hours for its staff have dwindled. All donations will go toward assisting staff who have been temporarily laid-off or are facing serious hour reductions.
Pambiche, a Cuban hotspot in the Kearns neighborhood, has closed up shop for now and is raising money to support its 15 employees who are out of work. Donations will be split between the staff, prioritizing the most vulnerable staff members.
Southeast Porltand coffee roaster and cafe Marigold Coffee has temporarily closed and is raising money to support its baristas while they are out of work.
Cubo, SE Hawthorne’s Cuban comfort food hub, has closed and the owners are concerned they will not be able to stay afloat through the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations will help the small restaurant pay rent, equipment rental costs and other bills, with additional funds going to employees.
This beloved cocktail bar is calling on regulars to donate a virtual tip each time they pour a drink at home while self-isolating, with the funds going to the club’s bartenders and servers who are out of work.
Korean kitchen Han Oak has been forced to close its doors and lay-off all employees. The owner is raising money to go directly to the out-of-work employees to cover expenses.
The staff of this full-service catering business is struggling after the businesses has come grinding to a halt with event cancelations in Portland. The company is raising donations to go to employees in need.
The owners of R&R Bar and 21st Ave Bar & Grill have been forced to lay-off their entire staff, but are looking to raise funds to assist employees while the bars are temporarily closed.
80-percent of Pizzeria Otto’s staff was laid off when the pizzeria was forced to close its dining room. The owners are looking for donations to help support staff that have been unable to access unemployment benefits.
This campaign is looking to raise money for servers and back-of-house staff who have seen their tips drastically decline as business has slowed recently at the NYC-style pizza spot.
The Northeast brewery hasn’t mentioned lay-offs or closures but is asking regulars to make donations to support the pub’s servers.
This Southwest coffee shop and teahouse has closed up shop until April 3 at the earliest and is raising funds for employee relief.
The staff of this neighborhood tavern is completely out of work and the owners are raising money to help out-of-work servers, bartenders and cooks pay rent and buy provisions.
The owner of Firenza Pizza says he’s been forced to close down and is struggling to pay regular bills and the lease with no income. Donations to this campaign will help make sure the pizza place is able to reopen down the road. Funds past those bills will go to employees who are out of work.
Additional resources for the industry
Despite sourcing and distribution challenges that come with social distancing during this pandemic, the Oregon Food Bank continues to work to ensure everyone has access to food in the wake of COVID-19. Anyone looking to help can donate online to help affected communities or sign-up for volunteer shifts if they’re healthy. For folks in need of assistance, check out the organization’s Food Finder map tool to find a meal or nearby food pantry.
The Portland Independent Restaurant Alliance has a guide for employees looking to file for state unemployment benefits and find affordable health insurance options, as well as links to national programs assisting displaced workers. The group is also encouraging folks to sign a congressional petition led by the National Restaurant Association to provide emergency relief funding to the food industry.
This is a comprehensive guide of tips, frequently asked questions and how-tos surrounding filing for unemployment in Oregon or dealing with lost hours due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The list will be updated as new information becomes available.