These San Diego Businesses Are Giving Back During A Time Of Loss & Uncertainty

March 27, 2020

In this trying time when the whole world is facing increasing precautionary measures aimed to battle the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, these San Diego businesses are doing their part to give back.

On Monday, March 16, the County of San Diego and the State of California ordered the closure of all on-site dining in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many area restaurants continue to offer takeout and delivery, the hospitality industry is left reeling from losses with an estimated 60% of local eateries having closed. Below we run down the San Diego hospitality-based businesses doing what they can to help others, including those raising money to support their out-of-work staff.

Dirty Birds - At all 4 San Diego locations, Dirty Birds is "winging it forward" - donating 20 wings to hospital employees and first responders for every 20 sold (delivery pictured above). The chicken wing restaurant has already delivered to Sharp Emergency Room, Barona Fire Department, Sharp Care Clinic, UCSD Emergency Room and Alvarado Emergency Room. People can follow along on Dirty Birds social media accounts to see where they are delivering daily.

San Diego Dining Group  - The hospitality company behind Greystone the Steakhouse, Saltwater, Butcher’s Cut Steakhouse, Osetra, the Fishouse, Oseteria Panevino and Farmer’s Table have transitioned their restaurants into nonprofit community kitchens so they can feed people on the front lines of the effort to contain the growing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. From 11am to 1pm, Wednesday through Sunday, first responders and healthcare workers will be able to pick up a complimentary family-style meal for up to four people at Farmer’s Table Little Italy or the new Saltwater Restaurant in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. The company has launched a Gofundme campaign with a $20,000 goal so they can continue the charitable donations.

Cohn Restaurant Group - With the closure of all of their nearly 25 restaurants (but for a few that continue to offer takeout and delivery), David and Lesley Cohn face the unenviable task of figuring out how to help their team members who they could no longer employ at this time due to the mandated closures. One of California’s largest and most impactful family-owned hospitality collectives, Cohn Restaurant Group is meeting the industry crisis with proactive campaigns to advocate for their employees, immediately launching the CRG Employee Assistance Fund that is offering five hundred $500 Visa Gift Cards to CRG Team Members in need of groceries, prescriptions, gas and other essentials. The initial funding of $250,000 is from the Cohn Family Charitable Gift Trust, and the Cohn’s aim to continue this assistance with donations from generous family, friends and loyal CRG Guests. CRG has also transitioned two of their centrally located concepts - The Prado at Balboa Park and 333 Pacific in Oceanside - into a CRG Team Food Pantry. These venues provide FREE family-style meals for CRG employees to enjoy at home.

Whisknladle Hospitality - The La Jolla based restaurant collective, which operates 5 eateries around San Diego County, is donating all profits from takeout sales at Catania in La Jolla to laid-off workers. Order some pizza and pasta to help support local restaurant workers.

Common Stock - This Hillcrest hotspot is offering a free meal to laid-off hospitality workers. Patrons can not donate a meal via an option on the restaurant's online menu. The eatery is working on an honor system, asking that only people who have lost their job, been furloughed, laid off, come and enjoy a complimentary meal. Since the restaurant has noticed individuals are having a hard time asking for a "free" meal, they are creating a speakeasy style "passphrase" that when mentioned will alert staff that that individual's meal should be at no charge. The phrase will change daily and will be posted each morning on Common Stock's Instagram @eatcommonstock.

Karina's Seafood - To show appreciation for our local first responders working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego-based hospitality firm Karina’s Group will offer firemen, policemen, hospital medical staff, EMTs, and paramedics free burritos through the end of the month from 12pm to 6pm at its Karina’s Mexican Seafood locations in Bonita and National City. First responders simply need to show their credentials to receive a free carnitas, fish or sautéed vegetable burrito. Calling ahead to order is recommended but walk-ups are also welcome.

Head Lettuce & Spitfire - Owners Scott and Thai Slater have partnered with the Kavod Fund nonprofit organization to head a GoFundMe campaign, the San Diego Ready Meals Fund. All donations will go toward making and delivering fresh, healthful meals for healthcare professionals assisting COVID-19 patients and isolated seniors. The Slaters are also matching all donations. Nurses and doctors in the ICU at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and caregivers at The Season's at La Jolla, an assisted living center, will be the first recipients of San Diego Ready Meals. Scott and Thai Slater will be delivering 40 meals today to The Season's at La Jolla, with 175 meals scheduled to be delivered to Scripps on Monday, March 30.

Ambrogio15 - The North Pacific Beach Italian eatery is donating 25 percent of its wine sales to the San Diego Food Bank. In addition to offering a variety of food items for takeout, the restaurant also recently launched an online grocery with Italian specialty goods, wines and groceries.

Grain & Grit Collective - The San Diego-based hospitality group behind such concepts as Broken Yolk Cafe, Carnitas' Snack Shack, Little Italy Food Hall and Graze by Sam The Cooking Guy has released a branded t-shirt and a recipe book, the sales of which will go to supporting the company's laid-off team members during the temporary closure of all eateries.

Cutwater Spirits - San Diego’s largest distillery, Cutwater Spirits announced plans to offer community support in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The Miramar-based business is using its production resources and facility to produce an 80% alcohol hand sanitizer in accordance with FDA guidelines and will begin donating the first batches of hand sanitizer to non-profits within San Diego County including longtime charity partner, The San Diego Food Bank. Cutwater will also be donating funds to the Food Bank that will help the organization produce over 50,000 meals for distribution in San Diego.

Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks - The San Diego-based tropics-themed chain of restaurants is stepping up by teaming up with local senior citizen centers to ensure residents receive regular meals. For every full-price adult entree purchased for take-out (not 3rd party delivery), Islands will donate one free meal to a local senior citizen center. All Islands locations are participating.

Luna Grill - With kids all over San Diego County losing access to meals traditionally provided at school due to COVID-19 shutdowns, many families are facing increased food insecurity. San Diego-based Luna Grill has launched "The Good Card," where for every $5 gift card increment, Luna Grill will donate a fresh, healthy meal to a San Diego kid in need, sharing the sentiment of "you keep the card, we feed the kids." Customers can go online and purchase the e-gift card for themselves or send to a friend. For every increment of $5 purchased, Luna Grill will donate a fresh, healthy meal to a child in need through a partnership with the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

Crowd Sourcing Campaigns To Raise Funds For Staff

Azuki Sushi & Hachi Ramen - Owner Shihomi Borillo launched a $100,000 GoFundMe campaign to raise much needed funds for her the more than 70 employees laid off. Nearly $7,000 has been raised so far.

Campfire/Jeune et Jolie - The Carlsbad restaurants launched a $50,000 employee relief fund on to raise money to support 142 out-of-work employees. Founder John Resnick began the fund off with a $5,000 donation and all profits from takeout sales will go back to employees and pay for operating expenses.

Casero Tacos - The Carlsbad Mexican eatery has closed but hope to help support out of work staff through a 30,000 GoFundMe campaign, which currently has more than $6,000 raised.

City Tacos - This local chain of modern Mexican taquerias has already closed all 6 of its locations. Owner Gerry Torres had to lay off his entire staff of 69 people, and although he donated all his food to his team raised over $5k on his last day of business, he is still worried about his laid-off employees. City Tacos has launched a GoFundMe with a $10,000 goal to support furloughed staff.

Coin-Op Game Room - The owners of these North Park and Gaslamp arcade bar concepts are trying to keep their employees fed and are establishing a food bank to assist out of work staff members. They currently have raised nearly $11,000 or a $15k goal.

Consortium Holdings/CH Projects - The ownership team behind such area bars & eateries as Born & Raised, Morning Glory, Polite Provisions, Ironside Fish & Oyster and many more are hoping to help their large numbers of out-of-work staff. In addition to preparing daily family meals for employees and their families to pick up at Ironside, the hospitality group is raising money through donations and the purchase of gift cards.

Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen - Owners have launched a campaign to benefit laid-off workers at both the Flying Pig in Oceanside and Bantam’s Roost in Carlsbad. The company started its crowd-sourcing with a $500 of their own money and has currently raised around $1,700 of its $15,000 goal.

Knotty Barrel -  This East Village pub and brewery is raising funds through a GoFundMe campaign that will ultimately benefit its nearly 40 out of work employees.

Panama 66 - A total of 50 employees were laid off from Balboa Park's Panama 66, so one of the restaurant's bartenders has launched a GoFundMe hoping to raise $50k so he can give each of his fellow staff workers $1,000.

Puffer Malarkey Collective - The owners of such San Diego restaurants as Herb & Wood, Herb & Eatery, Herb & Sea, Animae, NIMA Cafe, Green Acre Campus Pointe, Green Acre Nautilus, Farmer & The Seahorse, and Wood Yu were the first to close their eateries in the interest of stopping the spread of COVID-19. They immediately donated perishable foods to their staff and have now launched a GoFund Me campaign to help out-of-work employees. The company donated the first $10,000 with the goal of raising $100,000.

Royale - This Point Loma/Ocean Beach burger destination launched a GoFundMe campaign to benefit its laid-off employees and for every contribution in excess of $25, owners Jordan & Mariah Brownwood will give the donor a complimentary beer or basket of tater tots upon the eatery's reopening. For those donating $100 or more, you'll get a branded t-shirt.

Seven Grands Whiskey Bar - This North Park whiskey bar had to lay off its staff but hopes to continue to provide as much support as possible through a GoFundMe that already reached its $5,000 goal. Help them go above and beyond by continuing to donate.

Tahona -  This Old Town San Diego restaurant and mezcal tasting room launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo where branded merchandize and mezcal & taco tastings are being sold to raise funds for the eatery's laid off employees. with all proceeds benefiting Tahona’s laid-off employees. It has already raised more than $1,400.

The Westbean Coffee Roasters - Forced to close its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, Westbean is raising funds via a GoFundMe campaign that will eventually be split amongst staff. The goal is a reasonable $5,000.

Wayfarer Bread - This Bird Rock bread bar and bakery has launched a GoFundMe campaign with a $30,000 goal to help raise money to benefit its staff during their closure due to the coronavirus.

Do you know any other San Diego bars, restaurants, or businesses going above and beyond to help others during this difficult period dealing with restrictions aimed to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus? If so, please let us know by emailing [email protected]. Thank you for reading, and please stay safe, well, and optimistic. We love you, San Diego.