In Dining

Industry workers who rely on tips are struggling. But you can help.

Little things matter: Support assistance efforts for bar & restaurant workers

Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on April 2, 2020 at 7:10 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.

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The world is changing rapidly for area bars and restaurants, most of which have been forced to adjust their operations in myriad ways to face the challenges of COVID-19.

Nearly all have cut hours for workers. Many have laid off a high percentage of their work force. Some – including large mult-unit groups like The Bartolotta Restaurants, Hospitality Democracy and The Lowlands Group – have chosen to close their doors completely while trying their best to provide for workers while waiting for government assistance.

Others remain open, offering carry-out and delivery services to muster the minimum income needed to keep their bare-bones operations running. As a result, restaurant and bar workers are experiencing sudden – and devastating – financial challenges. Workers who rely on customer tips to make up the vast majority of their incomes have found themselves in crisis.

Restaurants have rallied, reaching out to governmental officials about their urgent concerns for support. But, in the meantime, they are relying on friends, neighbors and community to offer support.

If you'd like to make a difference, here are some simple things you can do.

Take action

  • Learn more: Learn more about efforts to support the local restaurant industry and their workers.
  • Sign the petition: This petition asks Wisconsin legislative leadership for emergency relief for Wisconsin service industry workers
  • Buy gift cards: Give restaurants operational funds now and enjoy their food when they're back on their feet (many have links on their websites; if not, give them a call).
  • Buy a Restaurant Bond: These $25 bonds work like gift certificates, maturing over time (a $25 bond purchased now will be worth $30 in June, $35 in July, or $40 in August). [Purchase here]
  • Buy swag: You'll look good repping Milwaukee, and you'll be helping a business out too. [Click here for a list of awesome MKE merch]
  • Order carry-out or delivery: This helps restaurants stay afloat and offer income for employees [Click here for our list, which is updated multiple times a day]
  • Donate directly: Various funds have been created to support area workers (lists below). Every dollar helps.

Give to Service Industry Funds

National Relief Funds

I will be adding to this list as additional opportunities arise. If you know of a fund or means for assisting workers, please email me at lori@staff.onmilwaukee.com with details.

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