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Dallas restaurants are doing good deeds even during COVID-19 crisis

Dallas restaurants are doing good deeds even during COVID-19 crisis

Dallas bartender Omar Yeefoon
Dallas' food & beverage industry doesn't just make us a great cocktail — they're generous and supportive. Austin Marc Graf

Dallas' food and beverage industry is not only supremely hospitable, it's also consistently generous, always ready to rally 'round with charitable acts of kindness. That's even true during these cataclysmic times of the coronavirus, when thousands of people have suddenly lost their jobs.

Here are some initiatives and random acts of kindness that have already surfaced in the DFW restaurant world:

United Way has a COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund. They will help with bills, rent, and food. Call 866-211-9966 and provide zip code, and you'll get a list of local agencies to provide service.

Double Wide owner Kim Finch is working up an online performance outlet called QuaranTV, and have launched a Kickstarter to help fund performances by local musicians.

VisitDallas is developing a micro-website featuring restaurants that offer curbside/to-go or home delivery. Send details to diana@visitdallas.com

Ellen's in the West End owner Joe Groves has committed to paying his employees during the hiatus. He'll also match dollar-for-dollar every purchase of a gift card by donating an equal mount of food from Ellen's to a charity that serves the underprivileged, especially in southern Dallas.

Lawry's The Prime Rib in Addison is offering discounts: 15 percent off delivery and 20 percent off curbside pick-up to ensure customers have options to eat at home. Details are on Lawry's website.

Maple Leaf Diner founder/owner Mike Delaurier is supporting his staff. He met with all of his 48 staff members and asked how much money they need to live. He's scheduled his team for take-out and delivery shifts, and is supplying toilet paper, water, and food free of charge.

Mi Dia From Scratch has lowered its menu prices at all three locations in Grapevine, Plano, and Flower Mound.

Twisted Root is offering a free meal every day to its employees and their dependents.

Taco y Vino in Bishop Arts will be giving discounts to its fellow members of the service industry with 50 percent off of food "for as long as we can."

Terry Black's BBQ is offering discounts to healthcare professionals, first responders, and essential service providers. They get 30 percent off of pickup, delivery or catering orders through March. For delivery orders, Terry Black’s requests a day’s notice in order to fulfill, as most of their meats take 24 hours to prepare.

Whisk Crepes is giving free meals to all service industry employees whose income was impacted, up to 10 meals a day. You can text owner Julien Eelsen at 469-353-9718. "Let my people feed you!" he says.

Zoli's Pizza is doing a drawing for a free "meatzilla" made by famed pizzaiolo Lee Hunzinger. Anyone who purchases a $100+ gift card by Sunday March 22 is entered automatically. This applies to gift cards purchased online or in person for pick up to-go orders.

Centre, a sneaker store, has prepaid for 800 people to get a hot meal. Starting March 18, any families or individuals struggling can call Urban Taco (214-823-4723) located in Mockingbird Station and they will be given a time slot to pick up their meal. Time slots may be limited per day according to city ordinance to keep health risk down and keep everyone safe.

Rent Strike 2020 is an organizing campaign working in partnership with Socialist Alternative, the Rose Caucus, and branches of Youth Climate Action Team & Youth Climate Strike, as well as multiple direct-action and mutual aid organizations around the country, calling for a suspension of all rent, mortgage, and utility payments for 2 full months.

The Deep Ellum Bartender Relief Fund has been created for Deep Ellum bartenders, to give us imbibers a chance to give back to them in a way they've helped many others. As the GoFundMe says, "DE bartenders rely on tips to pay bills and with everyone closed it makes it difficult to find another job. Please donate what you can to help keep your favorite bartenders afloat through this scary and difficult time." Their goal is $200,000; can't fault them for ambition

A petition to cancel or delay Mixed Beverage Gross & Sales Taxes, and/or Sales tax has been launched. "Payment of these taxes will undoubtedly cause even greater financial burden on already struggling businesses that are closing or being forced to close to stop the outbreak," it says. "This delay or cancel of tax will provide financial relief immediately to businesses that will file to pay the March 20th tax due. Federal tax credits at the end of this year will not help cash flow, but cessation of beverage taxes can help NOW."

A Gofundme has been established to help workers on Greenville Avenue. They're hoping to raise $20,000, with a goal of gifting $1,000 to 20 people who work on Greenville Avenue who've been affected by bar and restaurant closures. Applicants must work on Greenville Avenue, must not be able to work in their primary place of business due to business closures, and must make a majority of their income yearly on tips, not salary. The "Greenville Help Team" will vote on who is eligible to receive financial assistance. 

A new website called SaveNeighborhoodRestaurants.com has been launched to execute delivery service without charging the restaurant a commission. The service was founded by Craig Spivey, owner of Bowlski's Lakewood Theater, and charges no fee to the restaurant or its customers. Current restaurant staff does the work. Call 214-434-1113 or proshop@bowlskis.com.

Family-owned Arizola's Mexican Restaurant located in Lake Worth, and sister restaurant El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant in Saginaw, will set aside 18 percent of all take-out sales for a special COVID-19 Employee Fund until April 1. This fund will be split amongst all Arizola's and El Sombrero "tipped" employees to help them during this troubling time. The restaurants had to let go of 50 percent of their staff; the COVID-19 Employee Fund will go to the tipped employees that were laid off, as well. Arizola’s has been in business for 52 years and El Sombrero has been running for 28 years. Owners Andrew Torrez and Angie Arizola have never had to close the dining room for any length of time. Both Mexican restaurants are offering curbside pickup for take-out orders, 11 am-9 pm Monday-Friday, and breakfast on the weekends from 8-11 am. "Everyone keeps talking about the restaurants needing to close, but no one talks about what owners are supposed to tell their employees," Andrew Torrez says. "Setting aside a portion of sales is the least we can do. We’ve had some employees for over 25 years, one server even commutes from Houston. We’re family here."