Culture / Newsy

Tilman Fertitta and Family Launch Employee Relief Fund With $1 Million to Start

Move Follows Free Meals Program

BY // 04.14.20

His casinos, restaurants, and hotels across the country are closed. His Houston Rockets are on ice. Yet, Tilman Fertitta and his family are stepping up to the plate on behalf of Landry’s Inc. employees who are out of work due to the pandemic-imposed closures.

The Fertitta family has created The Fertitta Entertainment/Employee Relief Fund and launched it with $1 million in seed money. All Landry’s employees impacted by the COVID-19 crisis can apply for assistance. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund can do so here.

“Our employees are our most important resource,” Tilman Fertitta says in a statement. “COVID-19 has taken a particularly harsh toll on all aspects of the hospitality industry where we are heavily invested. It is our hope this fund will provide some much-needed relief for our valued employees.”

This is the second helpful step taken by the Fertitta family, which early on in the shutdown opened the former Willie G’s on Post Oak Boulevard to serve a free meal daily to employees and their families. Of the 10,000 employees in Houston and Galveston, between 1,500 and 2,000 are fed each day from the larder that includes shrimp or chicken, pasta, salad, hamburgers, fries, and more. By mid-April, the team had provided more than 34,000 meals.

“It’s just unimaginable,” Fertitta said on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle on Saturday. “We’ve all had to do little layoffs over the year. But you have to basically shut down the whole company. When you think of having amusement parks, aquariums, a basketball team, casinos all over the world — and nothing is open.

“It’s just like a sci-fi movie you’d never believe.”

The Fertitta family joins other Houston hospitality leaders who have initiated programs to aid employees impacted by the unprecedented economic hardships borne of the coronavirus. Benjamin Berg of Berg Hospitality Group, early on, launched a GoFundMe campaign, the Berg Hospitality Family Relief Fund, with all monies going directly to employees.

Chris Shepherd’s Southern Smoke Foundation went into action immediately, growing its crisis-relief foundation by quantum leaps, thanks in no small part to the $1 million gift from New York-based Restaurant Workers Community Foundation.

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