It all started with an Instagram post from Chicago-based group Black People Eats that read: "Black Restaurants We Are With You. Comment below the status of your restaurant." The group's founder, Jeremy Joyce, wanted to check in on black-owned restaurants throughout Chicago after two nights of protests against the death of George Floyd that left some businesses damaged. The comments started rolling in, and among them was one follower who wanted to know if Black People Eats was planning to organize a fund for those who were affected.
It didn't take long for Joyce to put a plan in place and set up a GoFundMe campaign aimed at providing direct financial support to those who need it. The Black-Owned Restaurant Relief Fund has already raised more than $18,000 of its $20,000 goal—all of which will be divided up among 40 local restaurants, each receiving $500. Applications for the fund will open later this week, but Joyce wants business owners to know that the money can go toward any black-owned restaurant that's struggling right now—including those who have sent their employees home during the protests as well as those who are feeding their communities.
"That's why we're spreading it out. Restaurants can use it for whatever they feel is necessary, whether that's repairs, helping their staff out or bridging the community," he says. "That's one thing I'm passionate about: Food brings together communities, and food is political. It's a way to connect all people and all races together."
Joyce says he hopes that the fund will also help restaurants prepare to reopen in accordance with the city's new safety guidelines, which require additional signage, reconfigured dining rooms and personal protective equipment for staff.
"Some of them may have to build out patios. Some of them that are now merging over to more takeout will need additional innovation—websites, Grubhub, food photos," Joyce says. "It's all very overwhelming."
Joyce plans to keep the fundraiser open through June 18 and disperse the funds on June 19, or Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery on the same day in 1865. In the meantime, donate to the Black-Owned Restaurant Relief Fund and check out Black People Eats' directory of black-owned restaurants in Chicago.
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