Even in these trying times for restaurateurs and chefs, Nashville’s culinary community has banded together to try to help the entire industry survive this discontinuity of service. Soon after the first announcement that restaurants would have to pivot their models to curbside carryout and delivery only, a group of chefs and restaurant owners went to work to create a state-wide initiative known as Tennessee Action for Hospitality. This initiative aimed to communicate the importance of the hospitality industry in front of state and federal legislators as various bailout packages were being developed.
The group has expanded to include culinary professionals from across Tennessee, and this article in the Nashville Scene shares the story about how the group came together as the result of a single plaintive text from Butcher & Bee chef Bryan Lee Weaver to a list of industry friends. Members of the organization recruited public relations pros to join the effort and expanded the reach of the group significantly.
A special fundraising arm was established within Tennessee Action for Hospitality to develop methods for getting much-needed monetary assistance into the hands of the many displaced workers within the industry. Referred to as “A Fund for Us,” the mechanism for granting assistance has been set up within the The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and the pump was primed with more than a quarter million dollars in donations before it was even officially announced on Friday, April 3.
The founding donors included Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, Cool Springs Wines & Spirits and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee — a statewide trade association of Tennessee wine and spirits distributors (including Athens Distributing Company, Best Brands Incorporated, Beverage Control Inc., Empire Distributors Inc., Knoxville Beverage, Lipman Brothers, Triple C Distributing, and West Tennessee Crown Distributing Co.)
The funds are specifically allocated for employees of independent restaurants, bars, caterers or local restaurant groups that can make sure that their employees are eligible for grants by pre-qualifying their businesses at the fund’s website. After confirming eligibility, hospitality employees can apply for grants of up to $1,000 by filling out a simple application. The structure of the fund intentionally ensures that funds donated will be allocated to Tennessee employees of the locally-based restaurants that make the state’s culinary scene so genuine and so special.
Anyone interested in making an individual or corporate contribution to “A Fund for Us” should reach out to Marcia Masulla, who leads fundraising for Tennessee Action for Hospitality, or mail checks (payable to TN Action for Hospitality Fund) to:
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
P.O. Box 440225
Nashville, Tennessee 37244
Marcia Masulla: [email protected]
As a reminder of how important these workers are to the economy and actual fabric of our communities, Tennessee Action for Hospitality offers this description of who you will be helping:
We work extra hours so someone can have a great work party, or fund raiser, or book release, or birthday.
We donate food and gift cards to silent auctions for worthy causes.
We stop what we’re doing to take pictures of happy couples and families and friends.
We call cars for drunk people.
We go to bed last.
If you’re able, please help these worthy folks out, and don’t forget to over-tip whenever you #CarryOutandCarryOn!