Some Good News – May 2020

Some Good News

by Rebecca Patt, SVP of Development, Wray Executive Search

Inspired by Melissa Doolin-Koehne, Executive Director of Sales and Industry Relations at Black Box Intelligence and founder of Some Good News: Hospitality Edition group on LinkedIn, I am resharing a compendium of good, uplifting news coming out the hospitality business, to shine a light on the caring and resilient nature of the human spirit in this business:

  • Guy Fieri, celebrity chef and restaurateur, has helped to raise $22m since April 3 to help give $500 grants to unemployed restaurant workers across the US. Fieri has partnered with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to build the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Fieri has been working to promote donations to the fund through social-media events like the May 15 nacho showdown he is hosting on Food Network’s Facebook Live with actor Bill Murray. While he’s been promoting the RERF, Fieri said there are tons of ways people can donate to their local restaurants and hospitality businesses through buying gift cards, making donations, and ordering takeout and delivery. “Restaurants have been serving us for so long,” Fieri said. “Now is a chance for us to serve them.”
  •  KFC announced it will provide $500,000 worth of groceries to team members in over 4,000 restaurants across the US restaurants. KFC franchisees have joined forces with the KFC Foundation to create a Grocery Assistance Fund, which will provide $100 grocery gift cards to thousands of US employees as a gesture of appreciation for their service in keeping people fed during this difficult time.
  • Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry continues to aid organizations on the forefront of bringing relief to childhood hunger. To date, it has worked with 454 schools and community groups across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and D.C., providing more than $11.6m to help partners serve an estimated 4.5 million meals per day, according to Billy Shore, Share Our Strength’s Founder & CEO.
  • The leadership of Papa John’s and Church’s Chicken organized a meal swap for essential workers at their restaurants as a way of sharing goodwill in the industry and appreciating the service of their workers. Felicia White, Sr. Director of Operations Training at Church’s and Bobby Meroney, Papa John’s Division Vice President Southeast, helped to organize the event.
  • Publix Supermarkets announced it is buying excess milk and produce from farmers and donating it to food banks. During the first week of the initiative alone, some 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk is expected to be donated, the company said.
  • The town of Middleburg, VA, purchased thousands of restaurant vouchers from town restaurants and distributed them to residents to spend as the VA town deals with the coronavirus pandemic. Middleburg bought 500 vouchers, worth $20 each, from 13 restaurants participating. The vouchers will provide each restaurant with up to $10,000.
  • Shake Shack returned a $10m government loan meant for small businesses. “Our people would benefit from a $10 million PPP loan, but we’re fortunate to now have access to capital that others do not,” said Danny Meyer and Randy Garutti, Shake Shack’s leadership. “Until every restaurant that needs it has had the same opportunity to receive assistance, we’re returning ours.”
  • Shiner Beer in TX donated $500,000 to the TX Restaurant Relief Fund. Through an application process, the fund issues grants of up to $5,000 per restaurant unit to keep restaurants in operation and their employees working.
  • In my own community of Asheville, NC, the #ashevillestrong site serves as a go-to site for supporting local restaurants through the purchase of gift cards and other merchandise. In a little over a month since its creation in March, the site has garnered 27,000 visits and around 70,000-page views of its gift card directory and resources, according to its creators, marketing and PR company Bright Planning. Bigger initiatives are in the works including the creation of a full-fledged non-profit and permanent crisis relief fund.

So much more good news is happening besides what is included here. Got restaurant/hospitality-related good news you would like to share? Post it on the Some Good News: Hospitality Edition LinkedIn page, and email me directly so I can consider it for future articles:

Rebecca Patt specializes in recruiting top talent for the restaurant, food service, and food and beverage industry with Wray Executive Search. She can be reached at