Restaurants are desperate for the money raised by cash drives on GoFundMe, but some say that when they’ve tried to access the dough, they couldn’t get a dime.
Redwood City-based donation platform GoFundMe has been presented as a potential solution for bars, restaurants, and workers left without revenue during the coronavirus pandemic - to the point that Yelp and GoFundMe even mounted fundraisers for shuttered spots without their permission. But several restaurants that spoke with Eater New York said that when they tried to withdraw the money raised by their campaigns, the platform refused to pay out the contributions.
This isn’t just an urgent issue because the food industry needs money, now, to avoid an impossible-to-reverse freefall: As GoFundMe requires the beneficiaries of a campaign to withdraw its money within 30 days or lose it forever, delays to a restaurant’s ability to initiate a payout endanger the money they’ve been counting on.
But folks like Ariel Arce, who had fundraisers for workers at NYC spots Tokyo Record Bar and Air’s Champagne Parlor, says that GoFundMe delayed distribution of funds for weeks, while others like Melissa Rodriguez, the head chef at fine dining Italian restaurant Del Posto, say they haven’t been able to access any of their donated funds “despite repeated attempts and efforts to resolve issues.”
“It feels like you’re being held hostage by them,” Kevin Hooshangi, the managing partner of New York bar American Whiskey, tells Eater NY. “And this money is not going toward the proliferation of a business — it’s a lifeline.”
Are you a Bay Area food industry pro who’s had trouble accessing your coronavirus-related GoFundMe money? If so, please drop us a line.
And in other news...
- Food critic Soleil Ho says that to ensure the safety of its workers, all restaurants should be completely shut down — but as there aren’t safety nets within the economic system to allow that, staffers will continue to be endangered. [SF Chronicle]
- Doug Dalton of the Future Bars Group (the folks behind Zombie Village, Bourbon & Branch, and many other local watering holes) says that “conservative business decisions” they’ve made mean they can handle being completely shut down for now, but if the shelter-in-place extends past May 3 (which, let’s be realistic, it probably will) “then we’re going to have to come up with more solutions.” [SF Gate]
- The backlash against sourdough starter sharing has begun. [Mission Local]
- Sales of gift cards and liquor are booming, but restaurants and workers remain at the center of the economic storm. [Eater National]
- Nico Freccia, the co-founder of 21st Amendment Brewery, says that they completely closed up shop for the shelter-in-place period because “We’d rather frankly have people buying from a small local taproom that has no other source of income. That’s part of the consideration of us closing, so we are not taking business away from others that need it even more than we do.” [SF Business Times]
- The headliners for the Outside Lands food, comedy, music, etc. festival appeared to leak online Thursday night, with Lizzo, the Strokes and Tame Impala listed as the top performers at the August 7-9 event...assuming it still happens this year. [East Bay Times]
- SF-based Uber has announced that it will be sending its sending its Eats delivery drivers face masks. [Reuters]
- Restaurant Depot has always been closed to the public, restricted to food industry buyers only. But not anymore, as for now, they’re open to everyone. So if you’re looking for pro-level kitchen supplies or massive amounts of some pantry supplies, now’s your chance. [East Bay Times]
- People continue to break in to or vandalize temporarily shuttered restaurants. Some of the latest victims are Castro destination Harvey’s, SoMa soul food spot Little Skillet, Maruya in the Mission, and Bechelli’s Flower Market Cafe in SoMa. [SF Chronicle] [SFist]
- The Bay Area Distilling Co.’s owner, Donny LaFlamme, says that he’ll be giving sanitizing spray he’s made at his Brentwood distillery away on Friday and Sunday. Recipients just need to bring their own bottles to be filled. [East Bay Times]
- Oakland comfort food haven Homestead has launched a spin-off called the Humble Sandwich, with a deli-style menu co-owner Fred Sassen says will continue even after the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place has ended. [East Bay Express]
- Schools in West Contra Costa county will start offering students who need it free dinners, in addition to the free lunches that are already being distributed. [KPIX]
- Max Gambirazio, the owner of San Carlos roastery Papachay Peruvian Coffee, has been trapped at a Peruvian coffee plantation since March 13, as the country has enacted strict travel rules to slow the spread of coronavirus. [NBC Bay Area]