Restaurants, employees turn to GoFundMe for economic survival

Credit: Mark Fisher

Credit: Mark Fisher

Some Dayton-area restaurants and their employees are turning to GoFundMe campaigns to help them survive financially.

The campaigns range from a Dayton restaurant that simply “wants to stay in Dayton,” to three bartenders of a local craft brewery that opened up just a few few weeks before the pandemic forced it to shut down its tap room, to an Oregon District restaurant that didn’t set up the fund itself initially but is grateful for the nearly $3,000 that has been donated.

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State and federal bailouts are expected to provide some relief to restaurants and employees by speeding up  unemployment benefits,  offering small-business loans that may be forgivable and other assistance programs. And some local restaurants are still generating modest revenues from carryout and delivery operations. But restaurants, which lost all of their dine-in revenue starting on March 15, and their workers are not expected to recoup all of their losses. And no one can say when — or whether — restaurants and restaurant jobs will return.

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Here is a sampling of some of the Dayton-area restaurant-related GoFundMe campaigns launched since the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic began to strike in full force in Mid-March:

-- "Arepa & Co Colombian Wants To Stay in Dayton": The owners of this the locally based Arepas & Co. Colombian Comfort Food, which operates one restaurant in downtown Dayton after closing two others in Kettering and Washington Twp. in recent months, say on the campaign's page that the restaurant "is scraping at this point to keep the lights on, rent up to date and the family-run business fed."

“As you know, we have been in business for seven years and have the pleasure of meeting a number of you throughout the process. We enjoy what we do, the food we prepare and the service that we provide. We never thought we would have to be so humble to ask for the community's assistance, however, it has become that time. Many folks have reached out to see how they can help.”

“So, here it goes. We are humbly asking for any and all donations to assist us get through this difficult time. We (the family) have put so much time and effort into building our dream and providing a unique spot for Daytonians. See you on the other side.”

The campaign has a goal of $5,000.

-- "Help Sojourners Beertenders": Three bartenders at Sojourners Brewstillery, a craft brewery that opened in Washington Twp. shortly before the state-mandated shutdown of dine-in and tap rooms on March 15, wrote this on the campaign description:

“Coronavirus has impacted all of us in ways that we never could have predicted. We three ladies have been left with no income due to Ohio’s shutdown of bars and restaurants. Sojourners is Dayton’s newest brewery. Unfortunately, we have all been employed less than 30 days, and unemployment may not be an option. We represent a tiny portion of the economy, but this is our livelihood. We have no other options.”

The campaign has a goal of $10,000.

-- "Support Corner Kitchen COVID-19 Relief in Dayton": Here's what Natalie Skilliter, co-founder of the Corner Kitchen in Dayton's Oregon District, had to say in an email interview with this news outlet about this campaign, which set a $2,500 goal and already surpassed it:

“We use Yelp for our reservation system. As you can imagine, it's in Yelp's best interest if all our restaurants reopen, so they originated this GoFundMe page for us, and we had to claim it. I'm so grateful that they put this together for us because it's not something I would have done on my own, and we desperately needed it. How will it be spent? Paying bills!”

“Since the moment we were ordered to close on March 15, I've been furiously working to cancel and/or defer as many of our fixed expenses as possible. However, there are some expenses that just cannot be cancelled whether or not we are operating. This time of year, there's not a lot "extra" to put into the business so you just hold your breath and balance paying your vendors until graduation season begins and the weather breaks so you can open for patio season.”

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“I wish I could say that the GoFundMe account will be used to purchase inventory for when we reopen, but unfortunately it will all go to paying bills (March's credit card processing fees, telephone, point of sale system service fee, linen services, DP&L, Vectren, etc. etc. etc.). The bills keep coming. I am so grateful to this GoFundMe page and to everyone who has donated. Ultimately, it helps to put us in a position where reopening is still a possibility.”

-- "Help the LYT (Little York Tavern) Staff!": Little York Tavern & Pizza has been a popular pub and music destination for nearly 40 years in Vandalia. Here's how the campaign is described:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many lives. The family of employees at LYT need your help! They have all been displaced from work due to this global catastrophe. We have amazing customers who we have all come to know as family, and we miss seeing all of your smiling faces!”

“Please help support the staff you have come to know and love, the awesome people that make LYT happen, the amazing servers and bartenders that listen to your problems, make you laugh and smile, and the people in the kitchen that make the great food you need ... We will get through this together, and we can't wait to serve you again! All money raised in this GoFundMe will go directly to the staff at LYT. Thank you for your support!”

The campaign has a goal of $3,500.

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