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San Francisco Restaurants Serve Generosity to Their Community

While San Francisco restaurants are re-tooling their culinary excellence for takeout service under the city’s “shelter in place” order, they are also cooking up innovative ways to support their community.


April 16, 2020 - While San Francisco restaurants are re-tooling their culinary excellence for takeout service under the city’s “shelter in place” order, they are also cooking up innovative ways to support their community.

“The resilience and generosity of San Francisco’s restaurants are fully engaged during this crisis,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association.  

“While some restaurants are offering takeout and delivery options, many have still had to let the majority of their staff go.  Those not offering delivery have laid off their entire staff - often people they have worked with for years.   Many restaurants are asking that community support be directed through GoFundMe pages or gift cards - with donations going directly to employees, while waiting for the federal government relief program – the CARES ACT - to provide more needed funding,” said Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) and owner of Rose’s Café and Terzo.

The GGRA’s mission is to celebrate and empower the restaurant community through advocacy, education, marketing, events and training. In this time of crisis, they are very actively working with the city, state and national government to advocate for the restaurant industry.

The public can find ways to support San Francisco restaurants by following EatDrinkSF on Facebook and GGRASF on Instagram, using the hashtag #GGRARestaurantsRising.

The Bay Area Hospitality Coalition is a resource for restaurant employees, owners and supporters, coalescing for mutual support and advocacy at the federal, state and local level and providing links for everything from financial aid and assistance to mental health support to weather the COVID-19 crisis. 

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Multiple organizations have sprung up, orchestrating massive meal deliveries funded by donations including Feed the Line, which focuses on San Francisco hospitals; and Frontline Foods, a San Francisco group that’s just partnered with World Central Kitchen, chef Jose Andres’ nonprofit that feeds people amid natural disasters. Several businesses, including San Francisco’s Escape from New York Pizza, Mixt, Johnny Doughnuts and caterer Early Bird Tacos, launched their own independent efforts. Together they’ve collectively raised more than $500,000 to send meals to Bay Area hospitals (as of March 31, 2020).”

Hospitality Helps is an example of the events industry stepping up to support the community. Taste Catering is using their 19,000-square-foot facility to produce more than 1,000 meals a day (Tuesday - Friday) for distribution to the city's hospitality workers and their families. The Hospitality Helps program is made possible by partnerships with Meals on Wheels San Francisco and Food Runners. As of April 13, the team had already raised $200,000 to cover the cost of producing the meals.

Creator, which uses automation to assemble custom gourmet burgers, has taken “touchless” a step further and is sharing their innovation with the world for free.  Their engineers have designed a transfer chamber, essentially a takeout window that eliminates sharing of airspace between staff and customers.  They are sharing open-source plans to make this transfer chamber and will keep it patent-free to encourage any retailers, especially restaurants, to copy it.

Celebrity chef Tyler Florence, of San Francisco’s Wayfare Tavern, is working with the California Restaurant Association Foundation’s Restaurants Care program to provide assistance to restaurant workers who have been diagnosed with coronavirus, are caring for a sick family member or have lost work because of a restaurant closure.

Pizzeria mini-chainFiorella and Bi-Rite, the Mission District grocery store, ice cream and catering business,have joined forces to create “Pay It Forward Tuesdays.” According to Fiorella co-owner Boris Nemchenok, on every Tuesday until the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order ends, Fiorella’s Richmond District (2339 Clement Street) and Russian Hill (2238 Polk Street) locations will hand out 100 free meals to healthcare workers and members of the restaurant industry, many of whom are currently out of work.

Orders of comforting family meals from Mina Family Kitchen enable restaurateur Michael Mina to provide furloughed employees from his restaurants (Michael Mina, Pabu, International Smoke, etc.)  to pick up a free hot meal daily. Anyone in the hospitality industry receives a 20 percent discount off the Mina Family Kitchen menu.

Samovar has launched Samovar Cares: Free Meal Monday program. Every Monday, at both their cafes and restaurant, they are providing a free meal of Jook, savory rice stew with eggs and tofu, and a cup of tea for community and relief workers.  

Though Focaccia’s five stores are closed, they are fighting the COVID-19 war by preparing complete meals of local fare for those on the front line of patient care and critical, pledging 3,000 meals to these amazing heroes. So far, with the help of generous donations from ACME Bread Co., they have delivered over 1,000 meals to UCSF (Parnassus Campus), San Francisco General and Concentra Urgent Care.

According to Prairie owner/chef Anthony Strong, “We had a lot of customers asking how they could directly help those in the hospitality industry and we figured getting their pantries stocked during the shelter in place ordinance would be a good starting point.  We created the Industry Pantry Kit that people can purchase at cost on our Online Order Site and donate.  The boxes are packed with shelf-stable supplies and available to any recently laid-off restaurant workers (which we also extend to our suppliers' delivery drivers, farmer friends, etc.) who can swing by and grab one during store hours. 

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit or call 415-391-2000. 

For more about San Francisco, follow, and  Please use hashtags #sftravel and #AlwaysSF.

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 United Airlines is the preferred airline of the San Francisco Travel Association.

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Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Amy Cleary,  

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