Bevy of Peninsula small businesses launch fundraisers to assist staffers employees

Dozens of Peninsula small businesses launch fundraisers to assist employees

in Community/Featured/Headline

“After almost 29 years doing business as Buck’s of Woodside — in an instant — we had to let everyone go in this new unpredictable world.”

Just like that, 42 people lost their jobs.

To assist them, Jamis and Margaret MacNiven, owners of the iconic restaurant, launched a GoFundMe. The online fundraising effort has been impressive: over $60,000 raised. It helps that Buck’s is famous for having hosted celebrities and tech industry titans such as Elon Musk, who reportedly Tweeted support for the restaurant on March 17, “If Jamis needs help, he has many friends, me among them.”

As they await the possibility of government assistance, including the recently passed $2 trillion federal stimulus package and, locally, the recently-launched San Mateo County Strong Fund — which is raising funds to support local small businesses, nonprofits, families and individuals — dozens of Peninsula small businesses are using online fundraisers to assist employees who can no longer work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to a generous community, some are achieving success on sites such as GoFundMe.

Avenir Restaurant Group, operator of Rossotti’s Alpine Inn in Portola Valley, Milagros in Redwood City, Nola in Palo Alto and Town in San Carlos, has thus far raised nearly $140,000 for its staff. The ownership team and its vendors have also committed to matching the first $50,000 raised. The funds will “provide daily, nutritious meals out of our Milagros kitchen to our employees and their families who are most affected by the current circumstances,” said Greg St. Claire, managing partner of Avenir Restaurant Group.

“Opening our kitchens back up also allows a number of our employees to get back to work and feed hundreds of people in need,” St. Claire added.

Owners of Alana Cafe in Redwood City and Sixto’s Cantina in Burlingame can’t keep their eateries open during the COVID-19 lockdown. They’re raising funds to support 90 employees, who “have not been working since March 15,” co-owner Francesca Tashjian said.

“Some of these families only have one working adult and most are working in the service industry for 2-3 employers,” Tashjian said.

Lauren Savage, co-founder of The Reading Bug Bookstore in San Carlos, also worries about financially surviving the COVID-19 lockdown.  While craftily continuing her business’ mission via storytimes on Facebook and website orders, Savage is raising funds for staff salaries, rent and utility and vendor bills.

“We are adjusting to the reality of losing our in-store revenue streams for the foreseeable future,” Savage said.

Francesco Ruggiero, owner of Delizie Cucina in San Carlos, described being “heartbroken, but not defeated,” as it looks to support its employees.

“100% of the funds raised here will be distributed to our hourly staff, distributor, utilities, etc.,” Ruggiero said.

Here’s a list of more local businesses launching fundraisers to support their employees and/or their survival include. Also consider donating to the General Small Business Relief Fund in Redwood City.

Photo credit: Avenir Restaurant Group