Amid Covid-19 closures, hospitality industry shifting gears and purpose

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

When the Coronavirus hit the United States, it came in fast and furiously. Due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, public spaces became hotbeds for transmission. State governments moved quickly to shut them down—immediately impacting the hospitality industry.


Closures not only made thriving businesses come to a screeching halt, but also put millions out of work. But some hospitality businesses are trying to see through this, how they can help in other ways, doing what they do best: offer kindness, generosity, and even facilities, for those in need.


All hands on deck


The situation for bars and restaurants is dire. Eating and drinking establishments are not making revenue to pay their workers, vendors, suppliers, farmers, and lenders. Everyone is in trouble. That’s when Toast, Inc., a point-of-sale and cloud-based software company for restaurants, seized an opportunity. The company teamed up with other philanthropic organizations and industry leaders to support food service businesses during these troubling times. The initiative is called Rally for Restaurants.




Rally for Restaurants gives consumers a platform for finding a restaurant they want to support. So foodies and regulars rejoice, because there is now a way for your favorite spot to have a fighting chance. The organization is also monitoring Covid-19’s impact on the industry by pulling unique, real-time data sets from Toast systems across the country.


Supplementing spaces for quarantine, overcrowded hospitals


Quarantine and isolation methods are key to stopping the spread of Covid-19. But for many, they have nowhere to go. Staying at their homes or returning to their homes could potentially put hundreds, even thousands at risk. So when closures became inevitable, Chicago’s public health team saw a unique opportunity to work with their local hospitality businesses.



Hotel 166 on Chicago’s north side is now a refuge for patients who tested positive for Covid-19, yet don’t have symptoms severe enough to warrant a hospital stay. Chicago’s full plan intends to work with at least five hotels in the city to reserve rooms for qualifying patients. Other cities like New York and Detroit intend to create similar partnerships in their own cities.


Supporting the health and well-being of jobless workers


With millions of hospitality workers out of a job, some people are wondering how they are going to feed themselves and their families. From chefs to gym owners, some hospitality professionals are stepping up not only to help their own in a time of crisis, but others as well.


Chef Edward Lee, a Washington D.C.-based chef and restaurateur, began a nonprofit relief fund for restaurant workers called the Lee Intiative, as well as opened his Louisville, Kentucky location, 610 Magnolia, into a relief center.



“People are going hungry and no one has paychecks and no one knows what the future is,” Lee said in a CNN interview. Lee’s efforts have been replicated across the country. According to a recent article, the program has now expanded to Cincinnati via chef Jose Salazar, Los Angeles via chef Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza, and Washington DC via Lee’s restaurant Succotash.


Bringing hospitality and learning opportunities to the home


Hospitality extends far beyond hotels and restaurants. Small business owners who run dance or fitness facilities, spas, and event spaces are uniquely bringing their programs and services to the homes of their customers, students, and clients in an effort to retain normalcy, but also keep health and well-being at the forefront of these stressful times.


Planet Fitness is one fitness giant that moved exercise online amid closures across the country. Though the company expects major financial consequences to come out of the closings, the importance of exercise and well-being is still at the forefront of their message. The company started offering free online classes two weeks ago to members and non-members via a daily live stream.


Even small business owners are getting behind the effort. Martial arts instructor, Justin Garofano, brought his classes online for his students who are stuck at home and pulled away from their normal routine.




Joining the fitness industry in its commitment to health and wellness, salons and spas are getting behind the effort to take what was once a very face-to-face service to the homes of clients. Businesses like Totally Hott Hair Salon in New York are creating kits for pickup, so that customers can maintain hair health. Celebrity stylist Rianwa Capri is offering at-home learning opportunities for hair stylists who are currently out of work, as well as tele-consultations for clients.




With so many passionate hospitality workers finding a new purpose during the Covid-19 outbreaks, it’s virtually impossible to not see the good in the world in these uncertain times. If you’re an employer considering giving back in other ways, you can lead by these examples, or get in touch with your city ordinances to see how you can help.


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