No Time to Wait! Resources for Hospitality and Service Industry Owners and Employees

By now virtually everyone in the U.S. who owns or works for a small business has heard of and likely anticipates some form of governmental assistance as a result the impacts of COVID-19.  The federal government has responded with $350 billion for small businesses in the CARES Act, and more legislation is pending that should expand the reach of the Act even further.  Of course, small businesses and local governments that support them are waiting on the state and federal government to implement the legislation and distribute funds. Unfortunately, despite what I am sure are the best intentions by all, there is simply no way to know when help from the federal level will arrive and how big it will be when it arrives. And many small businesses with 25 or fewer employees may struggle to see any of this relief.

Some of the hardest hit small businesses, and the ones who will feel the impacts of the pandemic the soonest, are those who have dedicated their lives to the hospitality industry.  As an alternative to playing the waiting game, all hospitality businesses and service workers need to know that there are many emergency small business and nonprofit relief funds available from sources across the country and throughout the industry.  These resources are providing funding for individuals and owners in the food and beverage industry who are in crisis, and below is a list of those we have found that you may want to further investigate.

We will continue to update this information as more opportunities and info becomes available. But please contact us if you need assistance with these applications, or if you have other resources that we can publicize.

For Restaurant and Bar Owners:

  • James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund provides critical financial assistance to small, independent restaurants that, due to the COVID-19 national disaster, have an immediate need for funds to pay set operating expenses and keep from going out of business. The applications are suspended at this time due to the overwhelming response, but the website states that JBF will publish notice when they re-open applications.
  • Dining Bonds. Founded by a collective of restaurant industry professionals, this national initiative aims to get funds into the hands of restaurants NOW, even if they are temporarily closed. A Dining Bond works like a savings bond, where you can purchase a “bond” now at a value rate to be redeemed for face value at a future date. So for example, you can sell a $100 gift certificate or bond to a potential customer for $75, and your customer can come back at a future date with the “bond” for a meal valued at $100. For restaurants the bonds can bring in much needed revenue today, and give an incentive to customers to come back and frequent your business as the pandemic lets up.
  • facilitates online cooking classes to both help chefs earn income during this difficult time, and help people find virtual ways to connect with their friends. Sign up to become a chef teacher on the platform and get matched with hundreds of interested students. Class is conducted via Zoom and organizations handles all the signup logistics.
  • Host (or take) virtual classes with your friends, hosted by bartenders, chefs, fitness coaches, artists and more. 100% of profits go to the instructors. Host a class! People are looking for more cooking & bartending classes.
  • St. Petersburg Fighting Chance Fund is a grant program created by the City of St. Pete. It offers $5000 grants per Small Business and Applications are available now. Here are the eligibility requirements:
    • Business Eligibility: 25 or less employees, economic loss from COVID
    • Profitability for 1 year before February 29, 2020
    • Brick and mortar location within municipal boundaries, Petersburg Business Tax Receipt (other documentation as well)
    • Must Engage in one of these business types:
      • Restaurant (includes full-service, limited service, and café establishments)
      • Bar/Nightclub
      • Retail
      • Personal Service
      • Hair, beauty, and other personal services (salons, barbers, massage parlors, tattoo, spas, etc.)
      • Laundry services (dry cleaning, laundromats, garment repairs and alterations, etc.)
      • Cleaning services
      • Pet care services
      • Personal care services (child, disabled, & elderly care services, funeral services, etc.)
      • Personal and household goods repairs & maintenance ·
      • Fitness centers and gyms
      • Event spaces & services


For Employees who are in need of assistance, we have provided a list of potential resources below, and will continue to update this list as more information becomes available:

  • Petersburg Fighting Chance Fund:
    • Provides $500 grants to impacted individuals who meet these requirements:
    • Current or former employee of a locally owned & independently operated impacted eligible small business w/25 or less employees within the city limits
    • City of St. Petersburg Resident
    • Terminated, furloughed, or reduced salary of at least 50% after March 17th
    • Businesses included in the grant funds:
      • Restaurant or bar (includes full-service, limited-service, and café establishments)
      • Retail (physical brick-and-mortar establishment selling merchandise)
      • Hair, beauty, and other personal services (salons, barbers, massage parlors, tattoo, spas, etc.)
      • Personal care services (child, disabled, & elderly care services, funeral services, etc.)
      • Laundry services (dry cleaning, laundromats, garment repairs and alterations, etc.)
      • Cleaning services
      • Pet care services
      • Personal and household goods repairs & maintenance
      • Fitness centers and gyms
      • Event spaces & services
  • Florida Re-Employment Assistance:
    • Tablets, phones, and other mobile devices are not currently supported and may result in errors. Supported browsers are – Internet Explorer version 11, Chrome, Mozilla Firefox versions 16 or 17, or Apple Safari versions 4 or 5.)
    • The website is unable to keep up with demand. It is recommended to try applying between 11:30pm – 4am or download & mail your application
    • All FedEx stores in Florida will print & mail applications for you at NO COST
    • You do NOT have to provide work search contacts or complete Employ Florida from March 15 – May 2
    • Max Payout through July 31s will be $875 which is $275 plus $600 due to CARE Act
    • If you need to submit documents verifying your identity for State of Florida unemployment you can email them or fax them here: (321) 332-6608
  • Above and Beyond Foundation: Helping Hospitality – $500 Visa Cards,
  • The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund was created to create restaurant industry employees experiencing extraordinary hardship in the wake of COVID-19. Through this fund, grants will be made to restaurant industry employees impacted by COVID-19, including a decrease in wages or loss of employment.  Registration will reopen Thursday April 9th at noon Eastern Daylight Time and 20,000 additional applications will be accepted.  National Restaurant Association:
  • Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund provides emergency funding to those employed by or who own and operate their own restaurants or bars or are employed by a supplier to restaurants or bars that face unforeseen expenses that cannot or will not be covered by insurance. Application requires household financial information.
  • Another Round, Another Rally is a nonprofit financial resource for the hospitality industry which provides reimbursement grants and immersive educational scholarships to further the education of underrepresented voices in the community, and supply emergency assistance to those employed in restaurants, bars, and hotels who have fallen on unexpected hardship. Applications close every weekend and reopen on weekdays.
  • Restaurant Opportunities Centers United National Worker Relief Fund is providing resources and financial assistance to restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus crisis. Application process is currently paused as applications are processed.  Expected to reopen soon.
  • One Fair Wage Emergency Fund is providing cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers and more who need the money they aren’t getting to survive.
  • USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program provides grant funds to qualifying bartenders to cover emergency expenses.
  • CORE is a national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to granting support to food & beverage service employees with children, who have been infected with COVID-19 or who are caring for family members with the virus.