Community supports Lansing restaurants via fundraisers

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Kelsea Ellis, Lansing resident and former employee of Good Slice Pizza Co. in the city, is one of the thousands of restaurant and bar workers in Michigan left without a job and income.

As of March 22, over 108,710 residents have filed unemployment claims, according to a press release.

“I have personally not received any money from the community and do not expect to,” she said in an email. “I’ve filed for unemployment and filed my taxes, so I’m hoping for some additional funds.”

Community support through GoFundMe

Ellis though has noticed people pitching in on crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe (that also has a small relief fund to help businesses) to help employees at local restaurants that closed due to COVID-19.

“I have seen two campaigns for two of my favorite bars, and I find this a sufficient way to help our favorite service industry workers out,” she wrote.

Mac’s Bar, located in Lansing, is one of the businesses forced to close amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Lauren Buchko

Ellis said the GoFundMe campaigns raised over $2,000 each for Mac’s Bar and The Avenue Cafe, both located on Michigan Avenue in Lansing.

Though The Avenue Cafe offers food and drinks, it announced it will remain closed for the time being. Credit: Lauren Buchko

Other support: Scarves, tips and gift cards

Eight miles away from these restaurants, is Ozone Brewhouse on Beaver Street, which is open for business and is seeing other forms of support from community members.

“Diehard Scarves, a company that works with soccer supporter groups, set up a fundraiser for us,” said Cameron Tanner, an Ozone’s Brewhouse employee, via email. “The proceeds from scarf sales are going to affected staff at the taproom.”   

Tanner also said the community is also being very supportive with generous tips and gift card purchases.

“Hours at our taproom have been more than halved,” he said. “For the time being, we are being paid an average of what we have been making in tips over the past few months.”

Brewhouse is open and take precautions

Dustin Reemsnyder, who works at Ozone’s Brewhouse in Lansing, said via email, they are still open for carryout.

Ozone’s Brewhouse will stay open for carryout pizza and craft beer. They are taking extra precautions within the establishment in order for patrons to stay safe. Credit: Lauren Buchko

“People are still going in and getting beer and pizza,” Reemsnyder said. “Sales are obviously way down, but we’ve sold a decent amount.”

Ozone’s Brewhouse has had to modify operation in the interest of health and safety, and they are currently not accepting cash or refilling personal growlers for beer.

Reemsnyder said he’s not working at Ozone’s because of the closures and small staff but still helps figure out logistics.

“I went the other day to see how many cans of each beer we anticipated we would need,” he said. “We try to pre-pour so people don’t have to wait and potentially expose themselves to the virus.”

Ozone’s Brewhouse staff are continuing to monitor the situation and adjusting to demand during modified operation.

Background: COVID-19 Executive Orders

On March 16, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-9, which forced bars and restaurants to close by 3 p.m. due to the COVID-19 threat, leaving some restaurants open for delivery, window or walk-up services.

On March 24, Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-21, which is currently set to continue through Apr. 13 at the earliest. The order is the temporary suspension of activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. Essential businesses may remain open.

Infographic listing some of the businesses that are allowed to remain open under Executive Order 2020-21, ordered by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on March 24. Credit: Lauren Buchko

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