Roswell church network starts a virtual tip jar for restaurant servers

Roswell restaurants have received an outpouring of community support as residents shelter in place, but some operators worry it might not be enough.

Ted Lescher, co-founder of Lucky’s Burger and Brew, said he welcomes efforts like the virtual tip jar, where donors can send funds by Venmo or PayPal to restaurant workers. Brenda Orlans and Hope Roswell, a network of local churches that support people in need,started the campaign.

“I haven’t had to layoff staff, which is good,” said Lescher. “We had enough for last week’s payroll. Maybe we have one more, but after that, if we don’t get that [Small Business Administration] loan, we’re screwed. This whole thing is so crazy, the virtual tip jar helps quite a bit.”

Donors can access a spread sheet on the Hope Roswell website where 18 restaurants are listed with the Venmo or PayPal handle name.

Lescher’s 32 servers and kitchen staff have reduced hours and those employees with only once source of income get priority for work, said Lescher. He also has locations in Brookhaven and Marietta.

“I think it would be very sad if when the economy opens up, these restaurants aren’t there to go to,” said Orlans, executive director of Hope Roswell.

The virtual tip jar is a new idea for Hope Roswell, who’s ministry network includes seven local churches.

Orlans said she has visited nearly 20 restaurant owners to let them know about the virtual tip jar, but some have been slow to accept the idea.

This week, Orlans contacted Ryan Pernice, owner of Roswell’s Table and Main, Osteria Mattone, and Coalition Food and Beverage, which is located in Alpharetta. He furloughed 80 staff members and continues to employ 25.

“We haven’t started using it but I’m grateful for the support,” he said.

Pernice serves takeout service at Osteria Mattone, complete with limited menu items from all three restaurants. At Table and Main, he serves free meals to needy families and individuals on Tuesdays through Sundays to help supplement Fulton County Schools’ food distribution program. Pernice said 2,300 meals have been given out since March 17.

Orlans said Hope Roswell is committed to continue trying to support restaurants and staff. “We are not doing it for publicity and we are doing it to help our restaurants,” she said.

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