Guy Fieri is helping his fellow restaurant workers in their time of need.
The celebrity chef and so-called “Mayor of Flavortown” said in an interview with TMZ Live that he has helped to raise $20 million for a relief fund for restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus crisis. The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund came together through a partnership with the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, and Fieri said it’s already been put into action with more than 40,000 grants to workers facing hardship — worth $500 each.
The foundation posted a message on Friday to Instagram, saying it was prepared to send out a new round of grants to 10,000 restaurant workers, and thanked those who supported the relief fund.
The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in states across the country ordering non-essential businesses to close. While some restaurants have been able to shift to offering take-out or delivery, restrictions have led to the closure of dining areas to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus due to people being in close proximity.
A report from Business Insider noted that the industry lost $25 billion in sales in just the first few weeks in March, with more than 110,000 restaurants expecting to close — including 30,000 that were forced to shut down for good.
Some industry experts predicted that the coronavirus outbreak would be the worst crisis ever to affect the restaurant industry.
“Any pundit who thinks that they’re going to use a recent history — and by recent history, I mean the last 100 years, including the Depression — as a template for what is going to go on here? They’re kidding themselves,” restaurant industry investor and advisor Roger Lipton told Business Insider.
This is not the first time that Fieri has stepped up to help those in a time of need. As the New York Post’s Page Six noted, he jumped into action last October to help feed firefighters who were battling wildfires in California. Fieri joined other television food personalities in volunteering to prepare meals for the first responders, and got a shout-out from local officials for their work.
“Huge thanks to Guy Fieri and his team for providing dinners and lunches for firefighters at Sonoma County Fire District!” Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore wrote in a Facebook message.
Fieri said he plans to continue raising money for the relief fund and will continue the grant program for restaurant workers in their time of need even after the coronavirus crisis has passed.