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How Austin Restaurants Are Helping Hospital Workers and First Responders

From organized programs to discounts, the local restaurant community is pitching in to help essential workers

Five firefighters in uniform holding boxes of cupcakes from Sugar Mama’s in front of a red fire truck
A fire department receiving baked goods from Sugar Mama’s
Sugar Mama’s/Facebook

Although Austin restaurants are struggling due to the closure of dining rooms to slow down the spread of COVID-19, many are still working to provide meals for hospitals, first responders, and medical staff.

Here, Eater gathers these Austin restaurant efforts, including individual places and organized programs, from offering discounts, preparing meals that suit hospitals’ needs, to donating all-important caffeine.

  • A local effort called #ATXHospitalMeals uses donations to send hospitals food from variety of restaurants. Participants have included Chi’lantro, Cane Rosso, Torchy’s Tacos, Brooklyn Breakfast Shop, Smokey Mo’s Barbecue, La Traviata, Tarka Indian Kitchen, Steiner Ranch Steakhouse, and others.
  • Frontline Foods, which operates through José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, also provides an opportunity for community members to donate meals to restaurants. Restaurants working with Frontline include restaurants like Sala and Betty, Chi’lantro, Home Slice Pizza, and Taco Flats.
  • 101 by Tea Haus: The Asian restaurant is providing free tea or boba tea to health care workers who show their badges. (6929 Airport Boulevard, North Loop)
  • Baton Creole: For a $10 donation, the Cajun food truck will provide a plate of food (with sides) for health care or hospitality worker — either a specific person, or someone in need. (1016 East Sixth Street, East Sixth)
  • Brand and Mortar Group: The restaurant group will donate a cookie for every cookie bought. Cookies are made by pastry chef Natalie Gazaui, former pastry chef for McGuire Moorman Hospitality and Eberly.
  • Cava: The Mediterranean chain has a “Feeding Families” program. For every family meal sold, Cava will donate another to the family of a first responder. Recipient families are chosen by nomination. (515 Congress Avenue, Downtown)
  • Chi’lantro: After hearing feedback that hospital employees must save food for later, the Korean barbecue spot created reheatable microwavable bowls. Customers can purchase the bowls for hospital staff by emailing Chi’lantro, and the restaurant is also working with Frontline Foods and #ATXHospitalMeals. (multiple locations)
  • Cruzteca Mexican Kitchen: The Sunset Valley Mexican restaurant is offering 50 percent off to-go orders for first responders. Call 512-291-7726 or order online. (5207 Brodie Lane, Sunset Valley)
  • Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors: The Central East Austin coffee shop provides the opportunity to buy cups or carafes of coffee that they will deliver to hospital workers. (1111 Chicon Street, Central East Austin)
  • FoodHeads: The campus-adjacent restaurant allows patrons to order lunches for healthcare workers. There’s also a program to purchase a family meal for children at risk and their families. (616 West 34th Street, Heritage)
  • Hestia/Henbit: The restaurant group is donating 200 meals a night to Ascension Seton hospitals for at least a week, through Tuesday, April 21 (the first night was sponsored by chef Kevin Fink, the remainder by an anonymous donor). Customers can donate meals (which are approximately $600 per night) through Hestia’s website. (607 West Third Street, Downtown)
  • Home Slice: The New York-style pizzeria has a “pie for pie” program: for every pizza purchased between 2 and 4 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, Home Slice will donate a pie to a community partner like Austin EMS. (501 East 53rd Street, North Loop)
  • Five Texas breweries including Oddwood Ales, Lazarus, Jester King, Roughhouse, and Houston’s Anomaly, have collaborated to produce Good Grief, a foeder beer with a portion of sales going to the First Responders Fund and the rest to cover staff salaries at the breweries. Order from their respective sites.
  • Julie Myrtille: The French bakery is sending weekly boxed meals to healthcare workers. Donate here. (1023 Springdale Road, East Austin)
  • Juniper: The modern Italian restaurant is offering 25 percent off to-go orders for medical professionals by using the code “FIRSTAID” and showing identification at pickup. (2400 East Cesar Chavez Street, Holly)
  • Lenoir: The South First restaurant has the option to donate a meal to first responders or healthcare professionals — either individually, or to the whole department. (1807 South First Street, South First)
  • Messina Hof: The Fredericksburg winery has a program called Bottle of Thanks that sends a bottle of wine to a healthcare worker (the winery will cover the cost of shipping).
  • Mozart’s Coffee: The Lake Austin cafe provides free meals for first responders daily. (3825 Lake Austin Boulevard, Lake Austin)
  • Otherside Deli: The pastrami experts are working with the Seton Fund to give meals to hospital workers. Customers buy the $10 meals (which include sandwiches and sides) on the Otherside website. (1104 W 34th Street, Heritage)
  • Pizzeria Grata: The gas-station Italian pizzeria offers its pizzas to health care workers for 50 percent off. (4415 Manchaca Road, Westgate)
  • Sugar Mama’s: The pastry specialists have a CupCares program where the community can send dessert orders to hospital workers, first responders, shelters, and more. (1905 South 1st Street, South First)
  • Terry Black’s BBQ: Medical workers, first responders, and essential workers get 30 percent off orders at the long-standing barbecue spot (the listed deal has been extended through April). (1003 Barton Springs Road, Bouldin)
  • Tiny House Coffee Roasters: The local coffee shop has been donating kegs and cases of cold brew to fuel health care workers through long hours. (801 Barton Springs Road, Zilker)
  • Alice’s Restaurant: The on-site restaurant of Treaty Oak Distilling offers the option to donate a meal of a barbecue sandwich and a side to heath care workers when ordering online, with over 160 meals delivered so far. (16604 Fitzhugh Road, Dripping Springs)

This list is far from comprehensive, as many more restaurants, like Emmer & Rye and Chinatown, have donated meals to hospitals on a personal basis. If you know of a restaurant program to feed hospital workers, send it through the tipline or email at austin@eater.com

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