Coronavirus News: Organizations helping restaurant workers with loans amid COVID-19 crisis

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Restaurant employees are taking a hard hit as businesses in New York City shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, but several organizations are helping restaurant workers get loans.

Connor O'Neill is a fine dining chef whose career came to an abrupt halt when the novel coronavirus hit.

"I had ten interviews lined up all had canceled within 4 days," O'Neill said.

O'Neill says he is grateful he did get hired as he is now cooking for Rethink Restaurant Response Program at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They cook food that gets distributed to the home-bound.

Winston Chiu is hoping to hire 30 displaced workers for Rethink, and his organization is getting creative by repurposing kitchens -- like the one at Little Tong.

"We're hoping to turn them into soup kitchens to create the food we need," Chui said. "Give them a grant to get them through the tough time."

With so many restaurant workers who had already been working paycheck to paycheck, soup kitchens may become more important than ever.

John deBary runs the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, which raised $55,000 in a matter of days. Funds will be distributed to workers in crisis, some will go for zero interest loans and some for less obvious needs.

Steven Hall is one of several publicists who represent restaurants who hope a bonds program can keep restaurants going.

"You're getting a benefit and helping the restaurant," Hall said. "Whatever it may be that they need the money for right now."

Restaurant gift cards for $75 can be redeemed for $100 in several months when the restaurant reopens. Dozens of restaurants are participating.
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