Turner's GM Jose Montufar and Chef Robert del Grande of Turner's and The Annie on the scene at the Berg Hospitality Drive-Thru barbecue fundraiser for employees, which repeats on Sunday. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
All hands on deck: Kim Stitham and Sam Governale for Berg Hospitality's Drive Through Barbecue fundraiser at B&B Butchers on Washington Avenue. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Restaurateur Benjamin Berg the man behind the barbecue fundraiser for his employees out of work with the COVID-19 restaurant shutdown. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
The might B&B smokers were hard at work over the weekend for the Berg Hospitality benefit barbecue. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
By 1:45 pm Saturday afternoon, the Berg Hospitality Drive-Thru BBQ fundraiser, which began at noon, was close to being maxed out. With several blocks of autos still in the line running down Washington Avenue, it was clear the food was going to disappear before the line did.
Restaurateur Benjamin Berg was astonished as he sat in his SUV in line outside B&B Butchers and Restaurant before checking with chef Robert Del Grande about additional supplies and food needed to accommodate the crowds expected for Sunday’s fundraiser.
“When we got here at 11, they were already lined up,” he said of diners not only wanting to lend a helping hand but also eager to sample Berg’s barbecue fare. “We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know how many would come. But before we opened, we already had 150 full orders [an order is enough food for six].”
It was a gratifying turnout for Berg, who not only has started a GoFundMe page for his hospitality employees put out of work because of the COVID-19 mandate closing all Houston restaurant dining rooms and bars, but also sponsored this two-day fundraiser feast for the benefit of his furloughed employees.
Items on the menu came from four of his restaurants, including B.B. Italia’s Italian-style smoked ribs, The Annie Café & Bar’s barbecue pork shoulder, Turner’s smoked half chicken, B.B. Lemon’s Wagyu hot dogs and smoked turkey legs, and B&B Butchers and Restaurant smoked prime rib. The smokers were fired up Friday afternoon and will continue for Sunday’s offering.
By day’s end, the Berg Hospitality team had racked up more than $16,000 in sales. Add donations and tips on top, the day’s proceeds reached roughly $20,000 to 21,000 raised in four hours. And more is expected on Sunday.
Berg was joined by 17 members of his group, all managers and all volunteering their time. Those included Del Grande, wearing his chef’s coat, slicing sides of beef and ribs, with Turner’s GM Jose Montufar at his side. Along with them were Sam Governale of The Annie Café and Bar and Emmaline on the front lines, handing out meal orders with Kim Stitham, vice president of human resources and talent, and Emily Hanley, vice president of public relations and marketing.
On Sunday, the Berg Hospitality Group will be ready with more meals and a streamlined pickup procedure. See the details here.