CORONAVIRUS

Restaurant employees receive one-time grants from Iowa Restaurant Association

Seventy-five workers get $250 grants

Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, says some 30 more restaurant wokers will receive a
Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, says some 30 more restaurant wokers will receive a one-time grants of $250.

Seventy-five Iowa restaurant employees have received $250 one-time grants from the Iowa Restaurant Association.

The grants were given on a first-apply, first-receive basis in the form of one-time grants, according to a news release from the association. Workers who already filed for an application will be considered as more funds become available.

Jessica Dunker, association president and CEO, said just under $27,000 has been raised so far. Dunker said approximately 30 more people will receive a one-time grants of $250.

The $250 payment “could be a car payment, depending on how many people you support, that could be one or two weeks of groceries, that could have been a critical bill for someone,” Dunker said.

“We didn’t want to go less than that, but if we went more than that, we wouldn’t have been able to give to quite as many people.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered Iowa restaurants, bars and other businesses to close March 17 to help stop spread of the novel coronavirus. Restaurants in the remaining 22 counties that had not already reopened were allowed to restart on May 13.

According to an assessment done by the association in March, restaurants offering carryout for the first time and operating with skeleton crews have laid off around 90 percent of their employees.

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Donations for the grants were taken from the public and larger businesses and restaurants, Dunker said. Fundraisers were held at businesses including Iowa Distilling, Raygun and Big Grove Brewery as well as Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser contributed to the funding of these additional grants.

Big Grove Brewery Co-Founder Doug Goettsch said in an email that the brewery came up with the All Together Beer, donating $5 per four-pack sold. In total, the brewery was able to donate more $1,500.

New recipients will be awarded based on the order in which applications are received. Due to the current waiting list, no additional applications being taken at this time.

Employees were required to prove with two pay stubs that they had worked in the industry and that they had become unemployed due to COVID-19.

Dunker said that only 45 percent of the restaurant and bar owners with whom the association has spoken will be able to hire 100 percent of their employees back and it’s anticipating more than 1,000 bars and restaurants across the state won’t reopen.

“Like everybody, we were just heart sick over the impact that these closures had on our industry,” Dunker said. “We were put in this position where we did nothing to lose public trust, and we now have to do everything to regain public trust — that’s a hard place to be as an industry.”

Comments: (319) 398-8372; alexandra.skores@thegazette.com

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