Like many around the world, I’m making a mental list of businesses that value profits over people. Make the list and you loose my patronage. Simple as that.
But businesses are in a tough spot. Lay off employees so they can stay afloat, or continue to pay and everyone goes down with the ship? It’s a literal no-win situation.
But some Austin spots are trying to both stay in business and support employees via creative methods. Here are 10 local businesses that are doing right by displaced employees. Not only do they deserve your dollar when this crisis is over, but they’ve earned a virtual high five right now.
1/ Emmer & Rye
Small plates with big flavor are the hallmark of this Rainey Street institution. Like everyone on this list, the doors are still open for pickup and delivery. But if you choose to purchase gift cards, all profits go into an employee emergency fund. An awesome way to give to yourself while giving back.
An exploration of flavor and aromas distilled into take-out? Yes, please! Lenoir is a top five culinary experience of mine, and the idea of getting takeaway from this incredible restaurant makes me smile (if it weren’t for the circumstances).
And fortunately for its displaced employees, Lenoir is taking care of them. To support workers, the restaurant has organized a GoFundMe and provided paid sick leave to those still working, plus all employees have access to a primary care doctor. Awesome generosity from an exceptional establishment.
3/ New Waterloo (Sway, La Condesa, Il Brutto, More)
A few weeks ago, operators of some of Austin’s hottest spots were forced to furlough 550 employees across all 12 restaurants and bars in the New Waterloo group. To dampen the blow, the restaurant group staged an online telethon to raise money for staffers.
As of this article, the event has brought in more than $59,000. Add to the generosity continued healthcare and free meals from unused food, and the New Waterloo team is showing true care for the family they’ve created.
4/ Nova Hospitality (Nova Kitchen, Devil May Care, TenTen)
Another hospitality group more concerned with employee well-being than profits, Nova Hospitality is providing 100 percent of profits and gratuities to displaced staff. In addition, all restaurants are providing laid-off employees with daily meals and have committed to rehiring everyone once the dining ban is lifted. Another group doing right by the people that made it successful.
5/ Parkside Projects (Parkside, The Backspace, olive & june, Vamanos, Jugo)
Following a similar line as Hundred for Hospitality, all restaurants under the Parkside Projects umbrella are providing half-price meals for anyone in the service industry. All employees are keeping health benefits, and all sales will be poured back into the pockets of needy industry workers.
In the wake of its closure, Pinballz created an Employee Relief Fund that sends weekly checks to displaced employees. These funds go on top of whatever unemployment checks staff members receive, offering an extra boost when employees need it most.
The Employee Relief Fund is primarily funded by Pinballz, but you can donate through direct contributions or by pre-buying game cards. Buy a $50 game card now and 10 percent goes to the fund. A lovely way to pay in advance and help neighbors in need.
7/ The Soup Peddler
Delicious soup has been the name of the game for this Austin mainstay for years. Now, during a dire time, The Soup Peddler has done the near unthinkable: offer unlimited paid sick days to employees. Feeling under the weather? Don’t come in. Not only is this fabulous for staff health, but it’s flattening the curve for everyone else.
8/ Tc4 & Co. (Tony C’s, The League)
One a traditional pizza/red sauce Italian shop, the other a sports-centric family restaurant serving world-class fish and chips, Tony C’s and The League are a one-two punch of goodness.
The owners of these two restaurants have set up a GoFundMe benefiting employees during the COVID-19 crisis and will match up to $10,000 of donations. As of this writing, they are almost at goal, so please give generously if you can.
9/ Veracruz All Natural
In the wake of the shelter-in-place order, restaurants have kept their metaphorical heads above water through delivery services and curbside pickup. Not many closed the doors full stop to focus on staff. But celebrated taco joint Veracruz All Natural did temporarily shutter to focus on feeding displaced employees. A stunning example of empathy and generosity.
10/ Wheatsville Food Co-op
One of Austin’s original co-op markets, Wheatsville Food Co-op is giving back to employees in an important way. Owners have implemented a $2 “Gratitude Pay” bump for all staff, excluding senior management. Grocery store workers are on the front lines of the virus onslaught, risking health and working long hours so we can keep our pantries full at home. Every bit goes a long way during these trying times.
Pre-buying gift cards and services is a great way to support local businesses. Think you may need a milk + honey spa day when this is all over? Then buy some gift cards NOW and go later.
And don’t be afraid to offer to pre-buy from restaurants and businesses that aren’t already offering the option. Open a pre-paid tab at your favorite bar; pre-order a few haircuts at your local salon; etc. Businesses need the cash now so they can serve you later.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
I’m sure I missed quite a few deserving spots. Have a favorite? Give it some love in a comment below!