Houston Food Finder
With bars and restaurant dining rooms closed statewide to help fight the spread of coronavirus, many bar, restaurant and hotel employees in the Houston-area are out of work or working reduced hours.
Here is a list of resources for impacted hospitality employees and small business owners for financial assistance, food and mental health services.
If you are a consumer who would like to help, there are links to donation pages at the end of each relevant entry. In addition, you can read our article about other ways to help.
If you know of a business or organization offering assistance to Houston-area hospitality professionals, please email us.
For restaurant and bar employees:
- Southern Smoke Foundation: Founded in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Southern Smoke’s Emergency Relief Fund offers financial assistance to food and beverage workers in crisis, including farmers. You can apply online. To donate, visit this page.
- The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation has launched a Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Applications for a $500 grant open Thursday, April 2. For more details and to apply, visit this site. Added 9:05 a.m., 4/1/2020.
- The United States Bartenders Guild’s National Charity Foundation has established emergency grants for bartenders in crisis. For details and to apply, visit the website. To donate, go online.
- If you are a restaurant worker with children and you or a family member have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you can apply for relief from Children of Restaurant Employees.
- If you have been let go or laid off, you can apply for unemployment benefits, including the enhanced benefits in the just-passed federal relief bill.
- If you need help paying utilities, the State of Texas offers assistance via its Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program.
- Per BakerRipley, Texans looking for social services, financial assistance for public services and rent, information on clinics, crisis counseling, housing assistance, area food pantries, services for the elderly and more can call 2-1-1 or (877) 541-790. Then, dial 1 for English, 2 for Spanish or 0 for other languages and then dial 6. Added 9:10 a.m, 3/31/2020.
For restaurant and bar owners:
- The James Beard Foundation has launched a Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund to provide financial assistance “to small, independent restaurants” that need immediate funds to pay operating expenses and to keep their businesses open. Applications are due by 3 p.m. on April 3. Texas restaurants can apply here. To donate, visit here.
- The recently passed federal coronavirus relief package includes a $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program. Businesses that employ 500 workers or fewer are eligible for loans that may also be forgivable, in part or in full, if the business meets certain criteria such as using the funds to help retain staff. For more details, visit here, here and here.
- OCA-Greater Houston, an organization that advocates for Asian Pacific Americans, has compiled a list of resources for small business owners that has been translated into several Asian languages. Added 3:25 p.m., 4/7/2020.
- If you are looking for guidance on how to approach your landlord about your lease, Eater national has a Q&A with a lawyer who specializes in working with chefs and restaurants. Added 9:30 a.m., 4/1/2020.
FOOD AND ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES
- Houston Shift Meal: This relief effort is spearheaded by the same team that helmed Midtown Kitchen Collective, which organized significant Harvey relief. This new organization is partnering with sponsors and restaurants to offer free meals to hospitality employees whose jobs have been affected by coronavirus-related restrictions. Affected employees can visit the Houston Shift Meal FaceBook page, search the Events tab for upcoming opportunities to receive free meals, and then register. Registration does not guarantee a free meal, since these are first-come, first-served, but it does give the restaurant an idea of how many meals to make. Individuals receiving meals should be prepared to show a recent pay stub, an employee badge or other proof of employment when picking up their free meal. However, enforcement is at the discretion of the participating restaurants. To donate, visit here.
- Pour Neighbors is a private FaceBook group that is connecting Houston-area food and beverage professionals with restaurants and other establishments offering free and discounted food.
- Restaurant Workers Relief Program: Riel, in partnership with Maker’s Mark and The Lee Initiative, has launched the Restaurant Workers Relief Program. Hospitality professionals whose jobs have been impacted by coronavirus can stop by Riel at 1927 Fairview between 4 and 6 p.m. daily for free food and essential supplies.
- Second Servings is launching Dinner’s On Us with the support of Hess Corporation and Sysco. Every Tuesday and Thursday, starting Thursday, April 9, from 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., they will distribute meals (while supplies last) to unemployed hospitality workers via a contact-free drive-thru at 702 Avenida De Las Americas. To pick up meals, “hospitality workers must present a recent pay stub displaying the name of their restaurant, hotel, caterer, banquet venue, sports venue or convention center employer.” Added 12:03 p.m., 4/7/2020.
- Bread Man Baking Co. is hosting regular pop-ups around town where it is offering free bread to hospitality employees impacted by new restrictions on bars and restaurants. Visit their FaceBook and Instagram accounts to find upcoming times and locations.
- Mutiny Wine Room at 1124 Usener in the Heights is offering free barbecue plates for anyone in the hospitality industry whose job has been affected by the coronavirus crisis. It features two sliders with house-smoked meat, potato salad and coleslaw. Stop by Monday through Saturday 11 a.m to 8 p.m. (or while supplies last) with a copy of your W-2.
- On Friday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (while supplies last) Atlas Restaurant Group will be distributing 150 Easter meal kits at Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar at 4444 Westheimer. The kits, which will feed four, will include produce from Gundermann Acres, pork from Harrison Farms, rice from Harvest Grain Mills, cheese from Lira Rossa Artisan Cheese and recipes. The meals are available on a first-come, first-serve basis with proof of industry employment. Added 12:54 p.m., 4/7/2020.
- Craft Pita at 1920 Fountain View is offering free Falafel Rice Bowls to hospitality workers and their families, as well as several gift cards for anything on the menu for those in need. Please pull into its contactless drive-through to receive your free meal. Added 1:18 p.m., 4/7/2020.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
- Southern Smoke is now offering free mental health care to all bar and restaurant employees in Texas and their children. Contact Southern Smoke to be connected to a caseworker who will guide you through the process. Added 11:34 a.m., 5/27/2020.
- During this crisis, mental health can be as important as physical health. To that end, The Lovett Center is offering a free virtual support group for hospitality professionals. The next session is March 30 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. For future meetings, check the event calendar.