Delaware Public Media

Delaware Restaurant Association raising money for out of work service industry

Mar 25, 2020

The Delaware Restaurant Association is raising funds for service industry workers displaced during Delaware’s State of Emergency.  

It’s been a bit more than a week since Gov. John Carney ordered bars and restaurants in Delaware to cease dine-in services to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The Delaware Office of Unemployment has since been swamped with a record number of claims. 

And the Delaware Restaurant Association is now working to raise $1 million to offer $500 grants to 20,000 restaurant workers who’ve been displaced during the pandemic. 

Association President and CEO Carrie Leishman says that would be a start. 

“That really only touches the surface of the real need,” said Leishman. “Delaware currently employs 50,000 in restaurants in the state of Delaware. So it means a lot, that’s one in ten Delawareans. And when Delaware restaurants suffer it reverberates to the whole economy.”    

Leishman adds the industry has been stepping up to donate to the cause. 

“In crisis, really, our restaurants are most concerned with what they can do for their staff and employees, because it wasn’t a slow-down of business or financial crisis that closed our restaurants,” she said. “It really was the forced closure because of coronavirus.”        

The restaurant worker relief fund got a $50,000 boost from the owners of Dogfish Head Brewery in part because of profits from hand sanitizer sold to the state during the pandemic. 

Restaurant workers seeking relief and those who want to donate to the fund can do so through the Delaware Restaurant Association website and social media platforms.

Gov. John Carney recently set up a loan program through the Delaware Small Business Association (SBA) for restaurants, bars and other hospitality-related businesses to help them survive the emergency. Leishman says she is in conversations with the governor’s office to try to get more relief.