COLORADO SPRINGS — Restrictions due to COVID-19 have placed a burden on restaurant owners and employees. Many have been laid off or have limited hours because of the pandemic. However, a local initiative wants to help feed workers in need who are struggling to make ends meet.
The effort, "Rally for Restaurants," kicked off on Wednesday evening. The goal is to provide free meals to restaurant workers and their families.
The first meal giveaways took place at Beasts and Brews in northern Colorado Springs, and Luchal's Gourmet Catering in COATI, which is downtown.
John Perez signed up for a free meal for him and his family. He worked at two local restaurants in the beginning of the year, but for health reasons in the midst of a pandemic, he's now without a job.
"I have lots of friends that are unemployed right now. Very few of them, even if they work, they don't get any more than 10 or 12 hours a week," said Perez. "This will be able to help feed them and their families for the night. It helps out a lot of people. Tonight I won't have to find something to cook, and going into Christmas, it's not going to be the same this year."
The meals are coming just in time for the holidays and the colder months, when restaurants typically see slower business.
The effort is also benefiting local restaurants who are preparing and providing those meals. Each restaurant that participates, will be paid just over $1,100, which is $15 a meal.
Noah Siebenaller, the chef and manager at Beasts and Brews, says the indoor dining restrictions forced the restaurant to lay off employees. Because of the effort, a couple of the employs had work for the day, and were brought in to help prepare the dozens of meals.
"Before this was scheduled, I honestly didn't have anybody scheduled for today," said Siebenaller. "It's not only tough for operations, but its tough mentally and emotionally on all of us."
The grant allows four restaurants to give away a combined 300 meals every week for the next 11 weeks. For example, on one day, two restaurants will give away 75 meals a piece. Later in the week, two different restaurants will do the same. At the end of 11 weeks, the effort will have helped feed 3,300 people, and more than 40 restaurants will have gotten paid.
"It allows us to bring in some income in the door as well, while helping those in the industry," said Siebenaller.
Those interested in picking up a meal must sign up ahead of time. Restaurants owners interested in preparing meals for workers can also sign up too. For more information about the effort, click here or here.
Donations for the effort are also being accepted, and 100% of the proceeds will go directly toward the restaurant and feeding restaurant workers.