By Reginald Allen II
Special to the AFRO
Dave Seel, president of the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund, created a Facebook group to support restaurants and their workers in response to the city-wide restaurant restrictions. Now, the former Facebook group is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the local restaurant and hospitality industry. The Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund and MileOne Autogroup started the “Feed the Industry” initiative to focus on supporting Baltimore City restaurants and helping under and unemployed restaurant workers.
The relief fund’s initiative launched on Dec. 30, and $1,500 grants will be provided to restaurants who apply to be a sponsor restaurant and prepare free meals throughout January and February. Restaurants that are awarded the will be given a budget of $1,500 to produce 100 meals at $15 per meal.
“I feel really happy that they [Mile One] were generous enough to think about the Baltimore restaurant industry,” Seel said, “We have been thinking about this type of initiative before but never really had the boost, where we could do something like this on a larger scale.”
Seel, a man with over 10 years in the food and beverage industry, said that the organization has worked hard to support the local restaurants and their workers since the pandemic started. He said that they are currently supporting 25 restaurants and 43 have applied so far. The relief fund has also provided 20 restaurants with a $1,000 outdoor restaurant grant. They’ve also awarded $100 microgrants to workers and KN-95 grants to restaurants and Baltimore residents.
Seel noted that private donors gave $5,000 to the relief fund on Dec. 31. He credited other sponsors like National Bohemian, Dogfish Head and Samuel Adams breweries for generous donations of $10,000.
The motivation for the relief fund came immediately after Baltimore City closed its restaurants because of the coronavirus. “Seeing my friends struggle, restaurant owners and career bartenders not having jobs, is psychologically debilitating and ultimately frustrating,” Seel explained, “Especially this last shutdown. It has been really frustrating because restaurant owners have been bleeding out money. Especially over the holidays when they make a good amount of money.”
To support local restaurants in Baltimore visit, www.bmorerestaurantrelief.org.