AUSTIN, Texas — A couple Austin businesses, MYLK Collective and A Taste of Koko, created the Hundred for Hospitality fund to help support the service industry in Austin and Houston. The mission is to serve 100 meals per day to hospitality workers who are temporarily jobless or in need of a meal.
"The hospitality industry is the backbone of our economy in Austin, and supporting unemployed service workers during this time is essential until these individuals can get safely back to work," said Chelsea McCullough, founder of MYLK Collective, a boutique lifestyle PR and digital media agency.
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"With rising rent prices that are almost $30,000 a month for a downtown location, the negative impact this pandemic has on our local restaurants is detrimental. If we don't help support our local restaurants in Austin, they won't be able to come back and we'll be left with chains like Cheesecake Factory, Jack In The Box and McDonald's," said Jane Ko, the Austin blogger behind A Taste of Koko, a food and travel blog.
Ko and McCullough said the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for Austin's beloved hospitality industry, forcing many local establishments to close their doors and lay off thousands of hard working employees.
"I lost not one, but two service jobs amid COVID-19 layoffs. If it weren't for the generosity of the people in our industry, it would be very difficult to find the basics, like something to eat," said Rachel, a laid off service industry worker in Austin.
Hundred for Hospitality
The Hundred for Hospitality website shows 100% of proceeds will go toward small local restaurants to cover food and staffing costs to provide meals to service industry professionals.
"Keeping local restaurants alive by ordering takeout, purchasing gift cards and restaurant merchandise, and tipping well during this time, can mean helping these small businesses survive and weather this storm so that their doors can open to diners when the time is right," said McCullough.
Ko said more than 200 local Austin restaurants contacted her and asked for help when dining rooms were mandated to close. Ko and McCullough decided they wanted to do what they can to help and created Hundred for Hospitality.
"My heart broke hearing restaurant owners telling me they weren't sure how long their restaurant could sustain and the number of staff they had to let go. The staff that was like family to them that they could no longer take care of," said Ko. "As the local Austin food blogger, I felt like it was my responsibility to step up and do something, because if not, who would?"
Through the fund, Ko and McCullough have served more than 2,000 meals to service industry workers.
If you were recently let go from a restaurant impacted by COVID-19, they ask you to sign up on this form.
If you want to help donate to Hundred for Hospitality, click here.
If you want to support a local restaurant, A Taste of Koko recently partnered with a local analyst to build out an app, creating an easier way for people to find restaurants that are open during the pandemic. Ko said this map is a public service tool by A Taste of Koko and Datamensions to help support Austin's local restaurants.
"The person that greets you when you walk into a restaurant, the person that takes your food order, the person that makes your cocktail – these are all people that once took care of us with that kind Texas hospitality, are now all out of jobs. I felt like it was our time to step up and take care of the service industry that took care of us," said Ko.
The Hundred for Hospitality restaurants and partners are: P. Terry's Burger Stand, The Peached Tortilla, Austin's Pizza, Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden, Old Thousand, Burro Cheese Kitchen, Tso Chinese Delivery, Chi'lantro, MezzeMe, Nova Hospitality, NadaMoo! and Austin Eastciders.
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