Culinaria Steps-in to Help Hospitality Industry During COVID-19

Adult man and boy waiting in line for hot meal

It’s not a secret that the Hospitality industry is one of the major industries in San Antonio and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an industry struggling more with each passing day. With many furloughed and inevitable restaurant closures, the situation will most likely get worse before it gets better. 

Stepping in to assist the Hospitality industry is Culinaria, its mission is to promote San Antonio as a culinary destination for food and wine. The other component of its mission is to offer support to the industry it serves in times of financial hardship. In the past, fundraising was structured through events to benefit a specific individual or family, but now, at this time an event is not an option, and the need to assist others is of growing importance.  

“This is definitely an unprecedented time for us all and our hope is to support furloughed industry workers that have helped put this city on the map as a culinary destination,” says Suzanne Taranto-Etheredge, President/CEO of Culinaria. 

Culinaria has initiated three tiers of assistance to address short and long-term needs for individuals and restaurants/bars in the San Antonio area.  

HospitALLity House focuses on short-term needs by ensuring those in the hospitality industry receive a hot meal. Service is provided Monday through Saturday at Alamo BBQ from 4 to 7 p.m. and several other restaurants have stepped in to help with meals at their locations.  Food donations and monetary contributions from generous businesses and individuals have helped keep this program, which has already fed more than 12,000 in its first two weeks of operation, going. 

Additionally, Culinaria Family Meal Kits are networked through chefs for distribution to furloughed workers.   

“It’s a true testament to the chef community and how they have rallied to help all of their furloughed employees,” says Chef Jason Dady, Executive Board Member for Culinaria and Owner of the Jason Dady Restaurant Group.  

Hospitality Businesses who have employees in need can send an email to info@culinariasa.org to be included in the kit distribution.  

For long-term needs, an Emergency Relief Fund has been established and will issue funds to Hospitality workers in need of financial assistance.  Currently, individuals and businesses are encouraged to donate to the Emergency Relief Fund through PayPal or Venmo on their website at CulinariaSA.org.  

two quick meals with chips

An application process is outlined on the Culinaria website, and the current need is greater than the resources available, so Culinaria will continue its outreach  to raise enough funds to assist more individuals and to later provide relief for restaurants and bars to reopen.  

Individuals who are interested in finding out key locations that are offering the hot meals to Hospitality industry workers, check Culinaria’s social media channels daily for locations and times.  

stacked boxes of chips

“Of course, our biggest efforts are to make sure that these individuals are provided a meal and a bit of hope that everything is going to be okay,” Taranto-Etheredge added. “Right now, we’re trying to be flexible and adapt in an effort to assist in any way we can.”   

Some of the key support includes contributions from Chef Jason Dady, Silver Eagle, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Sysco, Alamo BBQ, Bakery Lorraine, Chef John Brand and Hotel Emma, Gaucho Gourmet, Cheesecake Factory, Panifico Bake Shop, Hush San Antonio, San Pellegrino and Texana Brands. 

In addition, Culinaria is offering the Restaurant Weeks To-Go, to promote restaurants that have remained opened for to-go, curbside and delivery services.  Culinariasa.org has a complete listing of those restaurants,  menus (when available) as well as restaurant websites and phone numbers.   

Culinaria is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to promoting San Antonio as a premier wine and food destination while fostering community growth and enrichment. Culinaria is a registered 501 c (3) tax-exempt organization. A volunteer board of directors who represent the community and guide the organization in its mission to champion the wine and food industries governs Culinaria.