The government-mandated suspension of dine-in restaurants in Austin due to the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with loss of income from the canceled South by Southwest (SXSW) festival means local restaurants have been hit hard. However, in the face of these challenges (loss of income, salaries and wages, health insurance, food waste, etc.), there are many ways Austinites and the like can support these businesses.
In addition to ordering takeout/delivery, buying merchandise/gift cards from various businesses, and most importantly, calling your representative for a restaurant bailout, here are some ways to help the Austin restaurant industry. Let us know through the tipline if there are other support efforts not listed here.
*Please note that while the fundraisers and Venmo accounts listed below have all been shared by the official social media pages or known representatives of respective restaurants, Eater cannot guarantee that each restaurant will use the money as they say they will.*
- Southern Smoke has set up the Austin Relief Fund to support workers affected by SXSW and recent closures, with 90 percent of donations go to the Emergency Relief Fund, accessible to restaurants, bars, and their employees in need. Several local businesses, including Emmer & Rye, Franklin Barbecue, and Made In Cookware, are donating full or partial proceeds to the cause.
- The Austin Community Foundation has started the Stand with Austin Fund to support nonprofits that help those affected by SXSW (think Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, etc.) Local print shop Oh Boy! Print Shop is selling Austin-themed T-shirts that benefit the Stand with Austin fund.
- One Fair Wage Emergency Fund, a national organization of which restaurants like L’oca d’Oro are a part of, can offer assistance to restaurant workers.
- Eater National has a more comprehensive roundup of funds and organizations too.
Crowdfunding Campaigns & Venmos
- Intero: The east side Italian restaurant is taking donations that will go directly to its staff. Every $35 donation will receive a $50 virtual gift card, and every $50 donation will receive a $75 gift card.
- Drink.Well: The North Loop bar has set up a GoFundMe for its eight employees.
- Small Victory: The tiny downtown bar set up a GoFundMe to help employees until unemployment kicks in.
- Nickel City: The Central East Austin bar has a Venmo set up for its employees, who were temporarily laid off, and will provide full transparency on how funds are distributed.
- Last Straw: The East Austin vegan bar started a GoFundMe campaign to help support its hourly staff.
- The Omelettry: The longtime family-run diner, which is now closed for the time being, started a GoFundMe campaign to help support its now-out-of-work employees. It’s looking to raise $60,000 so that each staffer could get $2,000.
- Machine Head Coffee: The North Austin coffee shop (located within Veracruz All Natural) offered up its Venmo to collect virtual tips for its staffers.
- Fleet Coffee Co.: The east side coffee company laid off all staff, but started a Venmo/virtual tip jar for relief.
- Draught House Pub: Favorite hidden gem Draught House started a GoFundMe for their staff.
- Contigo: The essential east side farm-to-table restaurant set up a GoFundMe for their staff.
- Jester King Brewery: The Hill Country brewery set up a GoFundMe campaign for its laid-off staffers during this time.
- Kerlin BBQ: The East Austin barbecue truck is now closed, so co-owners Bill and Amelis Kerlin set up a GoFundMe campaign to help them pay their employees, rent, bills, etc.
- Bouldin Creek Cafe: The South Austin vegetarian restaurant had to close so it’s looking to raise money to pay their employees in the meantime via GoFundMe. It noted that the staffers will still have health insurance, as well as access to the cafe’s food stocks.
- Billy’s on Burnet: The neighborhood restaurant and bar started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay its 11 employees while it serves to-go and pickup orders.
- 40 North: The Clarksville pizzeria has a fundraiser for its employees.
- Bunkhouse: The hospitality group behind Hotel San Jose, Jo’s Coffee, and others, started a relief fund for its employees.
- The team behind pizzeria Tony C’s and The League created a GoFundMe for staff, with a matching donation up to $10,000 from owners Tony Ciola and Creed Ford IV.
- Fox Restaurant Concepts (Arizona-based group behind Flower Child and North Italia) is donating tips and donations to furloughed staff, and has started a GoFundMe with an available match of $250,000 from the CEO Sam Fox.
- The Roosevelt Room: The classy downtown cocktail bar has a GoFundMe for its staff.
- Spokesman: The St. Elmo coffee shop opened up a Venmo tip jar for its employees while it remains closed.
- Radio Coffee: While the South Austin coffee shop is operating under limited service (it set up a drive-thru), it set up a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for its laid-off staffers.
- Paperboy: The breakfast truck and forthcoming restaurant set up a GoFundMe campaign to help its staff during this time.
- Odd Duck: A regular diner created a GoFundMe campaign for the restaurant and its staff.
- Barley Swine: Odd Duck’s sibling restaurant in Brentwood launched its own GoFundMe campaign for its staff.
- Hops & Grain: The East Austin brewery started its own GoFundMe campaign to help support its staff.
- Frazier’s: The Riverside bar shared its Venmo information to collect donations for its staff.
- Jacoby’s and Grizzelda’s: The mini-restaurant company created a Venmo account to collect money for its staffers.
- Greater Goods Coffee: The charitable coffee shop and roasting company created a Venmo account to collect money for its baristas and roasters.
- Revival: The East Austin coffee shop is operating as a walk-up window business for now, and it shared a Venmo page to collect tips for its employees.
- Kitty Cohen’s: The East Austin bar started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the business and its staffers.
- Garbo’s: The seafood restaurant launched a GoFundMe campaign to help support its laid-off staff. Those who donate $50+ will receive a $10 gift card.
- Half Step: The Rainey Street bar launched a crowdfunding campaign on nonprofit-leaving fundraising site MightyCause to support its staff, and promises to share a public spreadsheet detailing the divvying up of the funds.
- Eden East: The prix fixe outdoors restaurant started a GoFundMe campaign for its staff.
- Pitchfork Pretty: The East Austin restaurant is collecting funds for its staff members while it is temporarily closed through GoFundMe.
- Launderette: The Holly restaurant launched a GoFundMe campaign for its laid-off staffers.
- Fresa’s: The fast-casual restaurant closed its South First location for the time (though its North Lamar location is still operating). With that in mind, it launched a GoFundMe campaign to help support the South First staff.
- Julie Myrtille Bakery: The bakery started a GoFundMe campaign to support the bakeshop.
- Whisler’s: The East Austin bar put together a GoFundMe campaign for its staffers.
- Trianon Coffee: The Westlake coffee shop launched its own virtual tip jar to support its baristas.
CSAs & Membership Programs
- Lenoir: The South First restaurant with a beautiful wine garden is a community-supported restaurant, with annual membership tiers that come with perks like a house account. The restaurant also launched a GoFundMe campaign to support laid-off staffers.
- Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches: The brewery and kolache-makers have a membership club at various levels that includes free beer, first dibs on new releases, and more. Currently 100% of the purchases go to the staff’s payroll.
- The Service Industry Tip Jar picks a random server affected by the layoffs and encourages people to leave a tip every time they sit down for a drink at home.
- North Lamar Korean restaurant Seoulju put together this handy bingo card highlighting local restaurants, with a heavy Asian emphasis.
- Remember: merchandise and gift cards are always great options.
For Service Workers and Operators
- Travis County announced programs to help businesses and individuals affected by the quarantine, including the Texas Workforce Commission for unemployment benefits for those who have been laid off or furloughed.
- The City of Austin set up the Emergency Food Systems Exchange, where people and companies looking for food or looking to provide food, among other goods and support, can connect.
- There’s a running Google spreadsheet of Venmos and Paypals of service industry folk who’ve been furloughed or let go by their places of employment.
- There’s a GoFundMe seeking money to be used to purchase restaurant gift cards, which will be donated to health care workers. The first partnering restaurant is Sala & Betty.
- Provecho is a local Mexican pop-up run by Wes Bracamontes and Ame Arguindegui that is hosting a free industry lunch with tempeh pambazo sandwiches on Wednesday, March 18. Message @provecho.atx on Instagram for more info.
- Tso Chinese: The delivery service is offering a free meal to those in need. Details here.
- Kick Butt Coffee is giving free coffee to those who were laid off.
- Austin chain Mighty Fine Burgers is giving away free meals to health care workers and first responders on Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Online ordering system Toast is offering restaurants a free three-month subscription as they figure out carryout and delivery options.
- The best grocery store H-E-B made a $3 million donation to help with coronavirus aid. The grocery store is also hiring workers for its warehouses.
- Oak Hill bar Detours is donating ten percent of all sales to the Central Texas Food Bank.