We are living through a time like few of us have ever experienced right now. Throughout this pandemic, people are often feeling lost, scared, even hopeless. Business owners are concerned whether they’ll be able to keep their businesses running and reopen the doors after weathering the COVID-19 storm.
But in spite of all that, there are local businesses and business owners who are stepping up to support our community. They’re going out of their way to find ways to give back and help those who may not be able to help themselves. Let’s shine a little light on a handful of those businesses.
Tiff Leon, owner of the beloved warm cookie delivery business Tiff’s Treats, has stepped up to provide water to those who can’t find it at the grocery stores. Tiff’s Treats organized the purchase of “Music Water” from FBR Management (who lost a substantial amount of business from its bars and restaurants with all the spring festivals’ cancellations but is still trying to support its employees). They are selling this water at cost to be delivered to homes, with customers just covering the delivery costs.
Austin Bars and Restaurants
Some of the businesses most affected during the quarantines happening in Austin, some of these restaurant owners refuse to hide away and lament. Instead, Crema Bakery and Cafe in south Austin and Tso Chinese Delivery are offering free meals to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and in need of meals.
Forbes reports that The Eleanor opened its doors to the public on March 12, inviting bartenders and support staff to work shifts with guaranteed minimum pay of $150 per person. Half of all sales benefited the Austin chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild as well as the Austin Food & Wine Alliance. They are also hosting bartenders from Nashville who traveled to Austin to work SXSW while their home bars are being repaired following the tornadoes earlier this month. On those evenings, a portion of sales is being donated to the Nashville chapter of the USBG.
Austin Community Foundation
The Austin Community Foundation created Stand With Austin to raise and match donations that support nonprofits assisting individuals and small businesses most negatively impacted by the cancellation of SXSW and least able to recover on their own.
Stamps family of companies
Stamps.com, of which ShippingEasy, ShipStation, ShipEngine (all three in Austin), and Shipworks (based in St. Louis) are subsidiaries, took a proactive approach to send employees to work from home (see some of our smiling faces below).
With a budget no longer dedicated to stocking pantries and refrigerators in the office, the company donated 40,000 meals to the Central Texas Food Bank (link takes you to the donation site, if you’d like to help) to support those in need.
At-home testing kit startup Everlywell has been relentlessly pushing to create in-home tests for the COVID-19 virus. They aim to make it convenient for Austinites stuck in their homes to be able to take a test to see if they are positive for COVID-19 if they’re concerned they’re showing symptoms. The company is also taking requests from medical facilities who are struggling to get the supplies they need for testing.
2/ We are committed to making a COVID-19 test available to consumers and are encouraged by the most recent WH briefing this evening. We are actively working with the FDA on a path forward for COVID-19 sample self-collection in a home setting.
— Everlywell (@everly_well) March 23, 2020
Freelance developer Corey Ward created a tracker called Takeout Tracker that tells you which restaurants are offering takeout, which delivery services they are working with, and whether they offer curbside pickup. You can filter by whether a restaurant is open currently and by various food categories. All the information you need to order is readily available.
Spent the day building this canonical reference of which restaurants are offering takeout and/or delivery during the covid-19 health crisis. Please share and flag if you find out-of-date information! https://t.co/GseG8taxox
Also, note: MIT licensed if anybody wants to fork.
— Corey Ward (@coreyward) March 17, 2020
Pets are a concern for people who can’t get out to buy food and pet supplies. Austin pet store Tomlinson’s is offering free delivery through the end of March to help pet owners get what they need.
HEB and Whole Foods
HEB is often a community champion. Since the pandemic began, the Texas grocer Whole Foods has temporarily increased wages for those tirelessly working to keep shelves stocked, and both stores are hiring part-time employees to help those who may have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
HEB has also partnered with the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Central Texas Food Bank to deliver meals to the elderly and disabled. H-E-B has donated $150,000 as part of the effort and Capital Metro will deliver the food to those who use its MetroAccess program.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
In what started as a joke gone viral, the Social Media Manager for Tito’s Vodka spent time responding to thousands of tweets about using their vodka to make hand sanitizer. Rather than just letting that go, Tito’s is now actually putting their money where their tweets are and making hand sanitizer.
While we advise that you cannot use our vodka as a hand sanitizer, our distillery has been working hard to get all of the pieces in place to begin production on 24 tons of hand sanitizer that adheres to industry and governmental guidance. Please see attached for more information. pic.twitter.com/c5pTzVOvv1
— TitosVodka (@TitosVodka) March 22, 2020
Titos has also pledged $2 million in support of service industry workers, with a donation of $1 million now and a future commitment to give $1 million more as things unfold. The initial $1 million is going to four groups:
- Children of Restaurant Employees
- United States Bartenders’ Guild
- World Central Kitchen
- Southern Smoke (a crisis relief organization for people in the food and beverage industry)
This is far from an exhaustive list and there are plenty of unsung heroes out there quietly doing work that has an impact but isn’t making headlines.
Together as a community, we’re stronger
Austin is resilient and a tight-knit community. If you’re in Austin and need help or want to help others, KUT has put together a resource to assist you. We need to keep coming together (while practicing safe social distancing) as a community so we can come out stronger on the other side of this. Let’s keep Austin strong while still keeping it weird.
Did we miss what your favorite business (or your business) is doing to help the Austin community? Tweet us so we can showcase more great businesses who are helping others!