Guy Fieri, the popular celebrity chef of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and reported fan of Portland, has teamed up with Davis Wright Tremaine’s Portland-based restaurant law practice, in order to raise money for out of work hospitality staff across the nation.
Speaking with KGW, Fieri said that the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund had already raised $15 million in funds that will go out in the form of grants to workers underemployed and unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The fund was founded by Fieri and attorney Riley Lagesen, who represents the celebrity chef and chairs the National Restaurant Industry Practice Group. It is also partnered with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, with sponsorship from PepsiCo, Uber Eats, and others.
“Currently we are getting 40 requests a second on the website and we are on the process of right now of issuing 60-thousand $500 grants,” Fieri told KGW over a Zoom call. “It really goes to show the restaurant industry has been hit hard, tens of thousand of restaurants are closed, three million plus restaurant employees are without jobs.”
The $500 grants are going out to workers who need to pay for rent or mortgage, utilities, childcare, transportation, groceries, student loan payments, and medical bills, but application acceptance is currently on hold due to overwhelming responses and over 60,000 applicants. The website claims to be “aggressively fundraising” in order to help additional workers in the future.
“I love going up there,” Fieri said of Portland. “You’ve got one of the most expansive food scenes going on anywhere in the country... I really mean that. It is an amazing food scene. If we all help each other and take care of one another, we’ll make it through this.”
• Restaurant Employee Relief Fund [Official]
• Guy Fieri joins forces with Portland law firm to help out-of-work restaurant workers [KGW]
• Is the Frosted-Tipped Wonder Himself, Guy Fieri, Lurking Around Portland? [EPDX]