The coronavirus crisis has been most virulent, from an economic point of view, when it comes to small businesses. The most affected sectors are, unfortunately, those related to the hospitality industry. Hotels and restaurants have seen their turnover halved on average during the pandemic, according to data from the employers’ association. Large operations and international companies had room to maneuver, but for family businesses, single and all those of small entity, the coronavirus crisis meant almost certain death.
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Times of crisis are also times when human ingenuity and innovation come to the fore
The Italian restaurant Nella Pizza e Pasta in Chicago (Illinois, USA) is one of them. Frank Grassano and Destinee Rieb, who own and run the restaurant, were soon in their forties. Their daughter shared a class with an infected classmate and this led to the restaurant being shut down.
Here is the difficult dichotomy faced by the girl’s parents: fire all the workers or fight tooth and nail to keep their jobs? With no business expected in the short term, the logical choice was obvious. And yet Frank and Destinee dismissed the idea and looked for a way to keep the staff on the job.
To do so, they turned to GoFundMe, one of the most successful crowdfunding platforms. The campaign launched under the name Bolsa económica para los trabajadores del restaurante Nella was published with a goal of $20,000.
As a reward for contributions, the restaurant offered everyone who made a contribution over $50 a celebratory meal cooked by Chef Nella. The idea was a great success and the flow of donations proved to be almost constant.
The story of the Nella restaurant is no exception
A search for the term restaurant on GoFundMe showed more than 20,000 results at the beginning of the crisis, and this number is steadily increasing. At the time of writing, 60,000 hospitality businesses have already turned to this portal to overcome their difficult situation. Just as Nella’s regular customers are helping their wallets to keep their favorite restaurant from closing, the same is happening in other parts of the U.S. for countless other catering establishments.
After running a search on the crowdfunding platform, the home page shows several large community crowdfunding operations. Among the hospitality groups appealing to their clientele is the Great American Restaurants chain, Richmond Restaurant Society, TIC Restaurant Group, Boka Restaurant Group, F+B Hospitality Brokerage, Fox Concepts Restaurant, and many others.
The combined amount raised exceeded half a million dollars in just a few days. The total amount to date is difficult to estimate due to the sheer number of open campaigns, for example, John Minadakis’ fundraising for Baltimore (Maryland, USA) restaurants stands at $257,754, with additional contributions with each passing hour.
The same is happening on other crowdfunding platforms. Restaurants have taken to these websites to fight with everything they have against the untimely closing of their doors. And this is when the brand image can really come into its own. The restaurants that have most cultivated their relationship with the customer, that have bet the most on quality in their service, and that have most strengthened their presence in the community, regardless of their size, will be in the best position to make use of this emergency tool.
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First published in DiegoCoquillat, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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