In response to the mandatory closing of Dallas bars and restaurants (to everything but takeout or delivery), a group called Shift Dallas has quickly formed to support local service industry workers. Their goal: to collect as much information as possible through an online survey, then offer help to industry workers who may lose or have lost their jobs during the pandemic.
Co-founder of ShipShape Seth Brammer, former Dallas Morning News dining critic Leslie Brenner, Profound Microfarms owner Jeff Bednar, Whisk Crepes Cafe owner Julien Eelsen, and more names from the Dallas hospitality industry launched the group just 24 hours ago.
“We’re mainly trying to identify who in the industry needs help and what kinds of things they need,” Brenner tells PaperCity. “And provide information for those who want to help.”
So far, the online survey has collected about 130 responses to questions ranging from the current state and type of workplace (restaurant, bar, coffee shop, hotel) to position and employment status. It also asks specifics, such as weekly pay, tip percentage, health insurance status, and access to food to get a better idea of the gravity of the situation.
“We really want people to ask for help if they need it,” Brenner says. Shift Dallas also hopes to find out what restaurants that have closed, but are not doing take out, are doing with extra food. “Are they giving it to their employees?” Brenner asks. “It’d be good to connect it with those who need it.”
“We want to craft messages to our greater community and get help from businesses that are withstanding this,” she says. “The restaurant culture defines who we are as a city, especially being named Bon Appetit‘s Restaurant City of the Year. We have to make sure that once we get through this there will still be an industry.”
Brenner also hopes that Shift Dallas will allow more people to gain health insurance and paid sick leave in the future. Based on 80 initial responses, only 60 percent of service industry workers said that they had health insurance. That’s not good enough.
“We just want service industry workers, from chefs to line cooks, to know that we’re here to help,” says Brenner.
Restaurant industry employees can find the online survey here. And if you want to give back to our restaurant community, Shift Dallas is also set up to accept donations on their website. Just message the link on the comment page and someone will reach out.
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The service industry is in a crisis. Restaurants, hotels, bars, coffee shops and other food service businesses may never be the same. But, if we act now, we can help the people who are losing their jobs, and work to prevent them from falling into desperation. The COVID-19 outbreak has decimated our industry. In a matter of days we have witnessed layoffs, closures, confusion and uncertainty. We believe that it is time to direct the considerable resources of our industry and our diners to help our most vulnerable peers in their hour of greatest need. Our vibrant industry is one of the touchstones of American culture. It would be an unthinkable tragedy to let it crumble without a fight. Join us, and help us build a better future for all of the people that make eating, drinking and staying in Dallas possible. If you want to help, but you don’t yet know how: watch this space, and visit us at https://shiftdallas.org – over the next few days and coming weeks we will need your support. We will be posting up to date information on closures and conditions as the crisis evolves, and providing resources for small businesses and displaced workers. If you’ve lost a job or had a pay cut already, please fill out our survey (link in bio) so we can best asses the situation as it unfolds and begin to assist those in need as quickly as possible. Monetary donations and volunteers will be needed and welcome very soon. Leadership assistance and logistical support is also welcome. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with any help, leads, ideas, or needs you have. We can do this. We can get through this. But only if we all work together.