Their emergency fund has helped over 1,100 Californian restaurant workers—and they want to help more

The emergency fund for the California Restaurant Association, Restaurants Care, has been around for just two years but in that time has helped more than 1,140 restaurant workers—hosts, servers, chefs, line cooks—get by during these particularly tough times, including four employees from Long Beach’s Restauration after the bistro suffered a devastating fire that caused it to close for nearly a year.

With the pandemic still in effect, most restaurants across the state are still depending solely or mostly on outdoor dining, particularly here in Los Angeles County. where restaurants have been playing the adapting game as they deal with everything from talent pool issues, distributor woes and political hurdles.

Given this, the association wants to continue filling those emergency fund coffers by encouraging Californians across the state to dine-out with the possibility of donating to their emergency fund.

The Grateful Table Dine-Out is a marketing campaign to promote dining out all November,” Alycia Harshfield, executive director for the association, told the Post. “Dining al fresco, dining via delivery, dining via to-go—just dining out. It’s really about encouraging Californians to go to their favorite restaurant to dine out in order to help out.”

There are two ways for restaurants to participate and customers to help: Restaurateurs can download a free assets packet that helps them promote the event, which the association will also be doing themselves for no cost and for both members and non-members. Customers are then encouraged to visit. After that, restaurant owners can take it a step further and allow customers to be more generous if they can or want.

“The additional option—the If-They-Can-Do-More option—is to add a donate button that allows customers to donate to our emergency fund,” Harshfield said. “It could be through their technology platform. For example, if they use Ollo, they have built-in technology that allows the donation button to be added. So if I am going to order a Coke and fries, there will be an option for me to donate a dollar or what not to the emergency fund. And, of course, there is always the option for people to just donate directly through our website.”

And it’s not just the workers this fund directly helps. The association estimates that more than 1,700 dependents have directly benefited from the various grants the association has distributed. This is paired with the fact that the emergency fund helps workers, particularly workers of color: Of the 1,140-plus workers provided grants for rent, groceries, medical bills and utilities, 79% have been workers of color. And these aren’t just restaurant workers who are members of the association; the emergency fund is available to any Californian restaurant worker.

“On top of getting people to go out to help restaurants directly, this is also part of our mission to recognize those that make our dining experience memorable and enjoyable: our bartenders, servers, hosts,” Harshfield said. “These are the people that are the backbone of our entire industry, and our emergency fund is really about not letting them slip through the cracks. This is about practical needs and human decency.”

The Grateful Table Dine-Out takes place throughout the entire month of November. 

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 19 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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