Jackson Hole-area businesses are trying to do their best for their employees and others in the community during the coronavirus shutdown.
Take the case of Melvin Brewing:
”For the month of April we’ll be donating 5% of can revenue (not 5% of profit, 5% of REVENUE!) to charity,” it announced on Facebook. “Half will go directly to our taproom employees, and the other half will go to the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, whose emergency relief program is doing all types of great things for our neighbors during this crisis. 5% of any Melvin cans you buy will go directly to these causes, and we suggest visiting CFJacksonHole.org to find out how you can give more if you are able.”
And here are what two large employers are doing:
Fine Dining tries crowdfunding
Fine Dining Restaurant Group launched a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $100,000 to offer financial support to its workers who aren’t on the job right now because of the coronavirus crisis.
“Our goal is to take care of 100% of our employees,” Fine Dining founder Gavin Fine said.
Though the company’s Bin22 and Bodega shops are open and offering prepared foods plus delivery service and curbside pickup, its dine-in restaurants are temporarily closed. Those include Rendezvous Bistro, The Kitchen, Bin22, Roadhouse Pub Eatery, Il Villaggio Osteria and Bar Enoteca.
Typically, Osteria is the only one that closes for a break after ski season, Fine said. The small number of workers who would normally file for unemployment in the lull have done so, he said.
All the rest are still onboard and “we are doing our best to keep every one of them, if possible, on the payroll,” Fine said.
There are 350 employees in all in the Fine Dining family.
The GoFundMe campaign is one long list of things Fine Dining Group is doing to help them, from giving them food from the restaurants that close to cutting them checks if they need cash, to deferring employee health insurance payments.
The company has applied for a Small Business Administration economic assistance loan. It started a Roadhouse Mug Club and will earmark all proceeds for the company’s employees.
In addition, Fine and Colby Cox, his partner in Roadhouse, have pledged to take zero salary during this time.
Employees are Fine Dining Restaurant Group’s “lifeline,” Fine said. “We need them all.”
You can find the GoFundMe page at TinyURL.com/wokqfer.
Blue Collar lends a hand
“We really haven’t laid anyone off,” said Joe Rice of Blue Collar Restaurant Group, which includes Merry Piglets, Sidewinders, Liberty Burger, Noodle Kitchen and Bubba’s Bar-B-Que in Jackson and three restaurants in Bozeman, Montana. “If they want to go on vacation we encouraged them to. If they want to work we give them what hours we can.”
Of the restaurant group’s 425 employees, 250 are in Jackson, he said.
“We are staying positive and checking on our staff regularly to make sure they have what they need,” Rice said.
That includes giving a break to employees who live in company-owned housing.
If they come up short “we’re not making them pay rent,” Rice said.
Jackson Hole diners who are ordering takeout from the local Blue Collar establishments are being “pretty generous,” Rice said.
“They’re leaving really nice tips. We distribute that to staff on an as-needed basis,” he said. “To the people who need it most.
“The community could really help all the restaurants in Jackson Hole by ordering takeout.”
— Jennifer Dorsey