Group of Roswell leaders is helping residents reach out to the restaurant workers

COVID-19 , Support Efforts ,

Source: Roswell Patch

Amid the financial devastation brought on by COVID-19, a group of Roswell leaders is helping residents reach out to the restaurant workers they've grown used to seeing on nights out or at lunch.

"I love to eat out, and Roswell has some of the best restaurants," says organizer Brenda Orlans. "It breaks my heart to hear about the struggles of some of my favorite servers."

Since customers no longer see the faces that might have grown familiar over refills of strong coffee or steaming plates of food, a group of citizens has come up with a way to help while maintaining social distance. Through a virtual "tip jar," the community can help support the staffs of their favorite restaurants, who still have bills to pay while dining rooms are closed. In some cases, users of the tip jar can even tip a specific server they've come to know through repeated visits. In other instances, the tips are spread among the staff of the chosen restaurant.

The tip jar is a project of Hope Roswell, a group of church leaders of various denominations who combine their efforts to help meet local needs.

"The restaurants have been hit hard, and we feel this will be helpful in enabling employees to pay their mortgages and other bills that our dine-in tips would normally help pay," says Orlans, who serves as the director of Hope Roswell.

Many who make their living in the food service industry are in a desperate situation as restaurants close or make the switch to curbside pickup or delivery.

At Lucky's Burger and Brew, one employee expressed a preference to stay home and practice social distancing to best protect her children. Ted Lescher, the general manager of the Roswell Lucky's, says he understood and was surprised to see the woman appear to work her shift. She was caught between the need to pay her bills and her motherly desire to keep a protective distance between her family and others.

Lescher, who has not had to resort to layoffs, has scheduled shifts in such a way that preference is given to those workers for whom Lucky's is the only source of household income. With everyone working fewer hours, the others have understood, and Lescher has been heartened by community support. One couple has come to Lucky's every day to pick up a meal and support the business they have grown to love.

Lescher says he "thoroughly appreciates" the money that has come in through the online tip jar "It's phenomenal," he says of the assistance given his employees. "They need all the help they can get."

It's one way to connect while weathering the storm and maintaining social distance. "We miss our customers, not just because they support us, but because they're our friends," Lescher says. Most of his customers are regulars, and one of them has called Lucky's "Roswell's living room."

Lescher says events have spurred customers and staff alike to look for new ways "to be nice to each other" as the crisis continues to unfold. When an exhausted nurse came in for a meal, the staff decided not to charge her, bringing grateful tears to the woman's eyes.

The tip jar, Orlans says, is another way to build on that spirit of compassion. "I'm hoping the residents of this great community will utilize this tip jar today, tomorrow, and as often as possible," she says.

The tip jar can be accessed at www.hoperoswell.org, and donations can be made through Venmo and PayPal. Roswell restaurant owners who would like their business to be included can contact organizers at hoperoswell@gmail.com. The list will be updated as new participants are added.