Guy Fieri is launching a relief fund for restaurant workers

The restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with many eateries across the country forced to shut their doors to comply with stay-at-home and social distancing orders enacted to help slow the spread of the virus.

To help ease the financial burden for those who work in the industry during this trying time, Food Network star Guy Fieri has partnered with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to support the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. The fund will give one-time $500 grants to restaurant employees who have experienced a decrease in wages or loss of employment due to the outbreak.

Applicants must have worked in the restaurant industry as their primary source of income for at least 90 days and experienced a decrease in wage or loss of employment on or after March 10. Online applications opened on April 2, and grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Smiling waitress serving meal for restaurant guests
Adobe Stock | JackF

All evidence points to this being a much-needed program. When it opened on the morning of April 2, applicants flooded the site, crashing it, and many could not get through to apply for a grant.

The NRAEF posted to Facebook to let restaurant workers know that they’re working on the technical issues the high traffic caused the site. “We are working quickly to solve the problem and will formally open the application process once we ensure the many restaurant workers in need of aid are able to fairly submit their applications.”

If you want to help, you can donate to the fund here (if you can get through). A number of corporate sponsors have contributed, including PepsiCo, Moët Hennessy USA, Uber Eats and Constellation brands.

“My entire career has been in the restaurant business. From bussing tables to flambe captain to dishwasher to chef … I’ve done it all,” Fieri said in a statement. “I’ve also spent the better part of the last 15 years traveling this great country meeting other folks who’ve dedicated their lives to this business, and let me tell you something, they are the hardest working, most real deal workers you’ve ever met … the heartbeats of their communities.”

The host of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” will spearhead the Restaurant Relief America campaign to bring money into the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

According to the press release, early estimates indicate that as many as 5 to 7 million restaurant employees will lose their job due to the virus.

As of March 30, the foundation had received $8.3 million in donations toward a $110 million goal. The NRAEF says that 100% of all donations will go directly to restaurant workers in need.

“They’ve been serving us for years, in the restaurant business,” Fieri told “Fox and Friends,” describing the hardworking employees who will benefit from these grants. “Let’s serve them.”

The Players Tailgate at the 2020 Super Bowl
AP Images | Jeff Lewis

This will definitely give restaurant employees a much-needed boost!