Restaurant Relief Fund Aims to Raise $1 million, Give $500 Grants

Workers on opening day at the new Chipotle Grill in Fairfax

A new relief fund has been launched to support to the nearly 50,000 people employed by Delaware’s restaurant industry. 

The Restaurant Industry E.A.T.s (Emergency Action Trust) fund was created to help workers impacted by the coronavirus crisis.  The fund will provide direct cash grants of $500 to out-of-work restaurant workers as early as next month.


The industry is reeling, with thousands of employees laid off statewide, as all 2,000 restaurants and bars were prohibited from in-service dining starting March 16th.  Restaurants are allowed to offer to-go and delivery service, but for many, it is not economically feasible and those that are doing it have seen a dramatic reduction in revenue – and a corresponding need for staff.


The E.A.T.s’ fund is being spearheaded by the Delaware Restaurant Association through its nonprofit foundation and has been boosted by a major initial grant from the Beer & Benevolence Foundation, created by Dogfish Head founders Sam & Mariah Calagione. 

Through their foundation, the Calagiones have provided an initial $50,000 donation, with another $50,000 donated when the fund reaches $150,000. Dogfish Head will also donate profits from the sales of hand sanitizer the Dogfish Head Distilling Co. is currently producing for the state to the E.A.T.s’ fund.

Dogfish Head’s hand sanitizer will be sold to the state of Delaware at market price, and 100% of the profits will go into a fund to support Delawareans affected by the coronavirus.

Thanks to the Calagiones and an anonymous individual donation, the fund has already raised over $65,000. The E.A.T.s’ fund will be seeking donations from individuals, private foundations and corporate partners.

Those wishing to support restaurant workers and donate to the relief fund can make a donation at  Any amount will be accepted and a tax-deductible donation letter will be generated upon receipt of all donations. 

Organizers say they are aiming to make up to 2000 individual grants of $500 each.


Mariah Calagione said Dogfish Head’s support was driven by a desire to return the community’s support over twenty-five years and out of recognition of the outsized role the restaurant industry plays in the state economy.  “As a beer supplier to the industry, and restaurant operators ourselves, we know the important role restaurants play in our local economy. We appreciate the Delaware Restaurant Association’s quick response to the current crisis facing hospitality workers here in Delaware and encourage those who are able to join us in supporting the E.A.T.s fund,”  said Calagione.

A record 11,000 Delawareans filed for unemployment in the first weeks following the restaurant shutdowns in Delaware. According to the association, restaurant workers make up 10 percent of the state’s workforce and contribute over $2.2 billion in annual sales.

They say as many as 25,000 will file for unemployment benefits in Delaware.

The Restaurant Association President Carrie Leishman said the fund was aiming to provide $500 grants “to as many qualifying displaced workers as possible. Our initial goal of raising $1 million would provide 2,000 grants to those most in need.”

Individuals who would like support from the E.A.T.s relief fund can apply on a rolling basis via an online application at Funds will begin being paid to recipients on April 6. Funds will be directly transferred into electronic Paypal accounts of applicants. 

Questions and comments can be directed to [email protected]


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