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A Guide to Michigan Organizations and Businesses Offering Support to Restaurant Workers

The bartenders, servers, line cooks, dishwashers, and everyone else that makes the hospitality industry great need help right now

A pole barn outside of Batch Brewing Company features a flag with the brewery’s logo that says Beer Makes Me Happy.
Batch Brewing Company is among several businesses distributing meals and money to service industry workers.
Gerard + Belevender

Michigan’s indoor dining closures continuing through Sunday, December 20, if not longer, and many service industry workers are struggling. Currently, workers in Michigan are entitled to meagre unemployment benefits — far less than what was available in the spring — and many may be forced off those benefits, too, when the CARES Act expires on Saturday, December 26.

With all of that in mind, and a compromise in Washington that would actually help the restaurant industry still out of reach, many initiatives are now underway to help servers, bartenders, dishwashers, hosts, and kitchen crews make it through this health and financial crisis. Below, Eater Detroit has assembled a guide to programs that are helping provide assistance to restaurant and bar workers in Michigan, as well as how to receive that money, if you happen to be one of the many in the industry that is out of the job or underemployed.

For more information on how to help fight food insecurity and support the industry visit our guide to mutual aid groups, food pantries, and volunteer opportunities. To share additional information about fundraisers and programs reach out at detroit@eater.com.


Feelgood Tap

Batch Brewing Company and its partners have helped raise roughly $40,000 to assist service workers impacted by the shutdown through its nonprofit Feelgood Tap and pay-what-you-can meal programs.

How to Give Help: People can donate directly to the program by visiting the Feelgood Tap website.

How to Get Help: Restaurant and bar employees impacted by the indoor dining shutdown can apply for assistance from Batch Brewing Company’s Feelgood Tap charity by filling out this online form. Proceeds from fundraisers will be distributed prior to Thursday, December 24. The brewery will also be hosting another pay-what-you-can event on Saturday, December 12.

Detroit Kitchen Terminal

This 501c3 nonprofit established by Desiré Vincent Levy and Shewolf chef Anthony Lombardo is designed to provide food service training to formerly incarcerated Detroit residents. Detroit Kitchen Terminal in now accepting donations and offering relief to restaurant workers living within city limits that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

How to Give Help: Anyone can give to the program through Paypal.

How to Get Help: Food service workers who reside in Detroit, Hamtramck, or Highland Park can sign up online to receive up to $500 in assistance.

Local Love

This program started by Great Lakes Hotel Supply and the Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Association is designed to help hospitality workers and owners in Michigan.

How to Give Help: Donations are being accepted through Gofundme. The organization hopes to raise $50,000.

How to Get Help: Fill out forms found on this page to register an individual for the program.

Pietrzyk Pierogi

This Eastern Market Polish food counter is creating food boxes for carryout and delivery as well as distributing pay-it-forward boxes to restaurant workers in Detroit and Hamtramck.

How to Give Help: Pick up a pay-it-forward box filled with a dozen pierogi for $16.

How to Get Help: Reach out to Pietrzyk Pierogi directly for more information on receiving a pay-it-forward box.

El Asador

Springwells-area Mexican steakhouse El Asador is accepting orders for carryout meal trays and directing 20 percent of the profits to his employees to help see them through this challenging economic period. All of the trays feature halal meat.

How to Give Help: Purchase a tray for around $50 with sides of refried beans, rice, salad, chips, and El Asador’s cumin-y salsa. Call 313-297-2360.

Go Tip ‘Em

Developed by local bar enthusiast and former Eater Detroit writer Nick Britsky, Go Tip ‘Em connects customers directly with food and beverage industry workers in need.

How to Give Help: “Tip” donations can be made to individual accounts registered through the site and organized alphabetically by state.

Service Industry Workers of the Ann Arbor Area

Members of a Michigan food service workers group have organized a fundraiser to benefit restaurant employees who’ve lost jobs or wages due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Service Industry Workers of the Ann Arbor Area (SIWA3) alongside International Workers of the World (IWW) is organizing the crowdfunding campaign with the hope of providing workers vital financial relief during the holiday season when many people are struggling with reduced unemployment benefits. Funds raised through the drive will be distributed on Tuesday, December 22.

How to Give Help: Anyone can donate to the SIWA3 Gofundme.

How to Get Help: Applications to receive money from the fund are scheduled to open on Friday, December 11, and close on Friday, December 18. In order to qualify, applicants must have worked in a bar, restaurant, or cafe in Washtenaw County within the last year, and are unsalaried wage workers that do not hold management positions.

Detroit Street Filling Station

Originally designed to help service workers, Detroit Street Filling Station’s Community Aid program provides free meals and groceries to anyone out of work and in need of assistance.

How to Give Help: Purchase a gift card and put “for donation” in the notes.

How to Get Help: Place orders for items on the menu before 4 p.m. by calling 734-224-2161 and requesting the industry discount. Community Aid items are available for delivery within a four-mile radius of the restaurant.

Marble Bar

As a benefit for its employees, Marble Bar is releasing an album called Pandemania Relief. It features a mix of music from local and international artists.

How to Give Help: The 33-track album is available for pre-order through Bandcamp for $15 and is scheduled for release on Friday, December 11.

Wayne County Cares Program

Workers from any industries impacted by Michigan’s recent epidemic orders are eligible to apply for a one-time payment of $500 through the Wayne County Cares Program.

How to Get Help: Applicants must be residents of Wayne County who earned less than $76,265 in 2019 and must be a current or former employee in an industry impacted by the pause since March 2020. Owners and managers at food service establishments are not eligible. Apply online.

Update, Friday, December 11, 2020, 3:36 p.m.: This story has been updated with additional resources.

How to Help Fight Food Insecurity and Support Restaurants in Detroit [ED]

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