COVID-19 Resources

Just For Restaurants: Relief Programs for Those Affected by COVID-19

March 26, 2020

Just For Restaurants: Relief Programs for Those Affected by COVID-19

In the forefront, a sign that reads "Alert COVID-19 Pandemic". In the background, a person serving food wearing a face mask to customers, also wearing face masks. Grants and loans for restaurant small businesses.

Restaurants, bars and local eateries across the country are struggling since being forced to close their doors in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Together these establishments make up one of the largest sectors of the small business economy. Their financial hardship has lead to mass layoffs and billions of dollars of lost sales.

Fortunately, many non-profits and private companies have banded together and launched relief programs, such as grants, free services and other resources to relieve their financial burden. While there are many other small business COVID-19 relief programs, these have been created specifically for restaurants and nightlife establishments and their employees.

Yelp Relief for Affected Small Businesses

Yelp is offering $25 million of relief in the form of waived advertising, fees and free advertising to restaurant and nightlife businesses affected by COVID-19. This programs is for small independently-owned businesses and franchisees with fewer than five locations that are located in the U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada.

For restaurants that currently have ad campaigns, Yelp is waiving fees and pausing scheduled ads until May 1, 2020. And if these restaurants offer delivery or takeout, Yelp will set up a $100 Yelp Ads campaign free of charge for the month of April 2020. Yelp paid features will also be offered free of charges until May 1, 2020.

For restaurants not currently running ads, many of Yelp's paid features will be offered at no charge. If the restaurant offers take out/delivery, Yelp will indicate this and highlight the business to consumers. Yelp is also offering free access to Yelp Reservations and Waitlist for the months of April, May and June 2020. To learn more, visit

The James Beard Foundation

In order to help bring swift economic relief to small and medium-sized restaurants, the James Beard Foundation launched a fund that will be gathering support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to provide micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need. To learn more, visit

Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation

This program is offering immediate direct money to organizations leading on-the-ground efforts in the restaurant community, as well as zero-interest loans to help businesses maintain payroll during closure or reopening once the pandemic subsides. The foundation has also established a relief fund for individual workers facing financial hardship or a health crisis. To learn more, visit

The Dining Bond Initiative

Through a collective of restaurant professionals, a global initiative has been set up to get funds in the hands of restaurants. Similar to a savings bond, a Dining Bond is where you can purchase a 'bond' at a 25% discount to be redeemed for face value upon visiting a restaurant (for example, a $100 bond can be purchased for $75). The goal is to sell the bonds and bring much needed income to restaurants. To learn more, visit

This crowdfunding platform allows people to buy gift cards in order to support Main Street shops, restaurants, and their workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Buying these gift cards puts cash directly into the accounts of those in need. The site currently features 20,000 restaurants across all 50 states. Any restaurant or shop that currently has a gift card program can join the list. To learn more, visit

Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund

This program provides emergency funding for those who are employed by or those who own restaurants, bars and bar suppliers who are faced with unforeseen expenses which cannot or will not be covered by insurance. To learn more, visit

Rethink Food Response Program

Rethink Food is selecting 30 restaurants that are based in New York City, and giving them $40,000 to stay open and operating. Each participating restaurant will be changing their restaurant to be a food distribution center (for the time being), where meals must be created for pick-up and/or delivery. To learn more, visit Hotline, a restaurant reservation platform, has launched a hotline for restaurant operators to get advice from a team of industry professionals. You can submit a question through

Relief Programs for Restaurant Employees:

  • Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. The United States Bartenders Guild's National Charity Foundation has established a grant program to provide assistance to bartenders who have lost income due to COVID-19. Jameson Irish Whiskey has pledged $500,000, plus a match of an additional $100,000 in individual donations. To learn more, visit
  • One Fair Wage Emergency Fund. This program has been established to provide cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery drivers, and other tipped and service workers impacted by COVID-19. To learn more, visit
  • Restaurant Workers Community Foundation. In addition to financial assistance to restaurant businesses, this organization has established a relief fund for workers facing financial hardship or a health crisis. To learn more, visit

Regional Relief Programs:

  • SaveOurFaves is a site that facilitates online gift card donations, specifically for San Francisco Bay Area restaurants. Restaurants can add their name if it is not already on the list. If a restaurant wants to offer gift cards, they can set it up with their POS provider (Square, Toast, ShopKeep) or with a third party provider. To learn more, visit
  • The Greg Hill Foundation and Samuel Adams have teamed up to support restaurant industry workers by providing grants to full-time restaurant workers in Massachusetts. To learn more, visit
  • The Giving Kitchen is a non-profit based in Atlanta that provides emergency assistance to food service workers in Georgia through financial support. To learn more, visit

This list of restaurant relief programs will be updated as new information becomes available. There are also many federal programs, state and local government programs, as well as private sector and non-profit programs for small businesses that have suffered as a result of COVID-19.