Behind the Bar The Business of the Bar

Aid and Resources for Bartenders During the COVID-19 Bar Closures

This is where you can donate or apply for assistance.

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Liquor.com / Laura Sant

With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to the closing of many bars and restaurants across the U.S. and elsewhere, the hospitality industry, along with the lives of the workers within it, is changing in unprecedented ways. We’ve compiled the most up-to-date information and resources available and will continue to update this post as events unfold. If you would like to share information with us about a relief fund or resource, please send us an email at contact@liquor.com

Resources for Bars and Bartenders

  • The USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program is offering grants to bartenders affected by the virus. You do not need to be a USBG member to apply. 
  • For those in the food service industry, the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund will offer grants to individual workers affected by the virus and zero-interest loans to businesses. 
  • Also for food service industry workers, One Fair Wage has launched an Emergency Fund to provide immediate assistance to restaurant employees.
  • Another Round Another Rally offers $500 relief grants for hospitality workers who lost their jobs or had their hours cut because of the virus.
  • The Restaurant Strong Fund from Samuel Adams and The Greg Hill Foundation offers grants to restaurant workers affected by the virus.
  • Tobin Ellis' Hospitality Relief Dashboard rounds up hundreds of resources for hospitality professionals.
  • CORE offers assistance to service industry workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have a child living in their home.
  • The Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund will assist service industry workers in the Seattle area who have been laid off or had their hours cut because of the virus.
  • The Southern Smoke Foundation in Texas is offering emergency aid for food and beverage industry workers in crisis.
  • Rye on Market, in Louisville, Ky., is offering "family meals" for pick-up for restaurant workers who've lost work because of the virus.
  • Hook Hall, a tavern in Washington, D.C., has established Hook Hall Helps, offering “family meals” and distributing care kits filled with essentials for D.C.-area hospitality workers.
  • The Warren Bar and Burrow in Pittsburgh will be offering 100 free meals a day to service industry workers who are out of work because of the virus.
  • The Giving Kitchen offers assistance grants for Georgia food industry workers with documented illness (including COVID-19) or other significant hardships.
  • Many workers may qualify for unemployment benefits. Check your information by state.
  • The NYC Employee Retention Grant Program will provide aid to small businesses located in the five boroughs of New York City that employ fewer than five people and have experienced at least a 25% decrease in revenue because of the virus. Eligible businesses will receive a grant covering up to 40% of their payroll for two months, up to $27,000 total.
  • The Facebook Small Business Grants Program is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. Facebook says details will be available soon.
  • Beverage Trade Network is asking industry business owners to complete a survey about business plans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who complete the survey will receive a report about the results.

How to Help

Please contact your local lawmakers to impress upon them the need to take immediate action to help the hospitality industry. Possibilities include postponing taxes due, such as the New York State sales tax that’s due at the end of this week, relaxing any off-premise sale or delivery laws, straight-up bailouts and other measures. 

If you’re unaffected by the crisis and have a reliable income, please consider donating to one of the following causes that promise to provide assistance to industry folks who need it.

You can also support your local bars and restaurants by ordering takeout or delivery, if they offer it. (Remember to tip the delivery workers well.) You can also help keep them going by purchasing merchandise such as T-shirts or totes or buying gift certificates to spend once the immediate crisis has passed; many restaurants are participating in the Dining Bonds program, offering gift certificates that are sold at a suggested price of 25% less than face value, but redeemable at face value upon dining at the restaurant (which is to say, you can purchase a $100 gift certificate for just $75).

Industry News and Actions

  • Jameson pledged $500,000 to the USBG COVID-19 Relief Campaign to be allocated to those facing financial hardship and will match up to $100,000 in individual donations until March 31.
  • Patrón pledged $1 million to support nonprofit partners of the hospitality industry that help families, individuals and business owners.
  • Beam Suntory and Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits together pledged a total of $1 million to the USBG relief fund and the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation.
  • Diageo pledged $1 million to the USBG relief fund.
  • Brown-Forman pledged $1 million to COVID-19 emergency funds including the USBG fund, the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation fund, One Louisville and others.
  • Molson Coors pledged $1 million to the USBG National Charity Foundation.
  • Tito’s has committed $2 million to organizations that are providing assistance to those affected by the virus. It is dividing $1 million between the USBG fund, CORE, the Southern Smoke Foundation and World Central Kitchen, and has pledged to donate another $1 million to other funds in the near future. 
  • Bacardi Limited pledged $3 million to nonprofit organizations providing direct relief to workers in the industry, including Another Round, Another Rally, CORE, the James Beard Foundation, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation and the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, among others.
  • Campari America donated $1 million to Another Round Another Rally.
  • Heaven Hill donated $400,000 total to One Louisville, Tri-County United Way, Stand with Austin, United Way of Lethbridge and South Western Alberta, Community Foundation of Ireland and local market support through sales team initiatives.
  • Ilegal pledged $50,000 to the USBG relief fund. In addition, says Ilegal, 100% of the profits from sales of its Ilegal Mezcal Oaxaca, Mexico, shirt will also go to the fund.
  • Screwball has donated $100,000 to the USBG relief fund.
  • Singani 63 has donated $25,000 to the USBG relief fund.
  • Michter's and Philip Duff have jointly donated $10,000 to the USBG fund.
  • Cointreau pledged $100,000 to the USBG relief fund and will also be featuring bartenders on its social channels; viewers can “tip” the virtual bartenders via a donation to the USBG Foundation, which Cointreau will match up to $10,000.
  • St. Louis' Luxco, which owns and produces Everclear Grain Alcohol, pledged $100,000 to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund.
  • Fireball has created an Online Tip Jar to assist service industry members, seeded with $100,000, and will match donations up to $400,000.
  • Aviation donated $15,000 to the USBG fund and will be adding an additional 30% "tip" for every bottle sold online through select retailers through May 1.
  • Novo Fogo is donating 100% of the gross profits from sales of its Sparkling Caipirinha canned cocktails during the month of April to the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation.
  • Blackened American Whiskey is donating 100% of its profits from online sales through May 1 to the USBG fund.
  • Winemaker Josh Phelps and Grounded Wine Co. will donate 10% of sales to Redwood Empire Food Bank.
  • Ryan Close, the CEO of Bartesian, will donate 25% of net proceeds to the USBG fund.
  • AMASS pledged 10% of all sales of its Botanic Hand Wash will go to the USBG fund.
  • Kentucky Peerless will offer curbside pickup for distillery select single barrels with a portion of each purchase going to the USBG fund.
  • The Long Drink will donate $10 to the USBG and its Bartender Emergency Assistance Program, up to $50,000, for every unique photo of drinking The Long Drink at home posted with the hashtag #Pantsdrunk on Instagram or Facebook.
  • New York Distilling is running The Ragtime Rye Quarantined Cocktail Competition, held virtually.
  • The NYC Hospitality Alliance has put together a Restaurant Rescue and Save Nightlife Plan to support the city's vital hospitality industry and asks that hospitality industry workers contact their elected officials to ask them to support the plan. 
  • The Independent Restaurant Coalition was formed to save local restaurants affected by COVID-19. It promises a united voice to speak directly to lawmakers making timely decisions about the fate of the restaurant industry, a daily briefing about key legislative updates and a social media call-to-action
  • Hennessy has established Unfinished Business, a $3 million small business recovery initiative to help small businesses power through the immediate financial challenges of COVID-19 and ensure they have the resources needed to get back on their feet. In addition to capital, the initiative will also provide access to information, educational content and other assets.
  • Chartreuse is donating $1 from the sale of each bottle of green Chartreuse between June 1 and July 31 to Another Round Another Rally.