Three weeks ago, Chef Edward Lee’s 610 Magnolia restaurant in Louisville KY was turned into a relief center for restaurant workers who’d been laid off or experienced a significant reduction in hours and/or pay because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Virtually overnight the LEE Initiative’s team (Lee, Lindsey Ofcacek, Collis Hillebrand and Kaitlyn Soligan) repurposed the organization to launch the Restaurant Workers Relief Program, providing food, supplies and assistance for restaurant workers in need. Just as quickly, it became a prototype for all of America.

Thanks to overwhelming community support, an anonymous private donor, and the continued generosity of Maker’s Mark, the LEE Initiative almost immediately was able to expand the Restaurant Workers Relief Program to 14 locations nationwide (a 15th location in Oakland is coming next week).

Restaurants across the country now are providing to-go meals, groceries, diapers and other essentials to those who need them.

Thanks to YOU and your shares, donation links, art sales, bake sales, news stories, compassion, and our partners at Maker’s Mark, we are proud to be operating 14 Restaurant Workers Relief Program centers across the country as of today.
For those in need of assistance, follow the restaurant leading efforts in your community for more frequent updates and stay tuned for the list below to continue growing.

Now, with support from Maker’s Mark, the LEE Initiative has awarded $10,000 grants to four like-minded organizations around the country. The entities receiving these grants were selected based on the positive work they’re already doing to support the restaurant industry during COVID-19.

Pints&union in New Albany (Joe Phillips, owner) is one of the grant’s recipients, and the only one located in the state of Indiana.

The other three recipients are: Chef Kelly English of Memphis TN (Fino’s Italian Deli); Chef J.J. Johnson of New York City (Fieldtrip Harlem restaurant); and Chef Erik Bruner Yang of Washington D.C. (Power of 10 Initiative).

The grants are to be considered as seed money to grow relief programs at these four locations, each of which will continue fundraising for their own grassroots relief efforts. 

Beginning Wednesday, April 8th, Pints&union will offer drive-through grocery service for restaurant workers from 5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. on the alley side of the building at 114 E. Market in downtown New Albany. Restaurant workers must have their IDs and paycheck stubs as proof of employment.

The LEE Initiative’s web site has a donations portal for all participants in the Restaurant Workers Relief Program. Simply navigate the drop-downs to route your donations to the intended recipient — and thank you for doing so. 

Full disclosure: In addition to serving as digital editor for Food & Dining Magazine, I work at Pints&union as beer director.