Splendido at the Chateau in Beaver Creek helps raise over $100K for Independent Restaurant Coalition
Fundraising dinner in March supports grassroots movement to help nation’s 500,000 independent restaurants, 11 million restaurant workers impacted by pandemic
BEAVER CREEK — The night before President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan and gave the green light for a $28.6 billion grant program to help struggling independent restaurants and bars across the country, guests dining at Splendido at the Chateau in Beaver Creek raised $110,000 during an event held to support the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC).
On Tuesday, March 9, chef-owner Brian Ackerman and his team hosted notable culinary figures Dominique Crenn, Andrew Zimmern, Billy Dec and Bobby Stuckey for a four-course fine dining experience that brought in an overwhelming amount of flavor and philanthropy.
“First of all it proves our model that there are people that would like to contribute to our cause and do it with an event like this one,” Zimmern said. “But more importantly, I was really excited that the confluence of this dinner’s date met up with the eve of this necessary push by Congress.”
The American Rescue Plan will ensure America’s independent restaurants, bars, caterers, taprooms, food trucks and others hit hardest by the pandemic can get the grants they need to survive. According to the IRC, more than 2 million people working in restaurants and bars remain out of work since the start of the pandemic and more than 110,000 restaurants have permanently closed.
This first-of-its-kind grant program provides debt-free support in the amount of annual revenue lost from 2019 and 2020, with special provisions for businesses that opened in 2020 and 2019. The support can be used on eligible expenses that include payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies, operations and more. The Small Business Administration will prioritize awarding grants to businesses owned or controlled by women or veterans or socially disadvantaged businesses.
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“Restaurants are such a vital part of our culture,” Zimmern said. “So we’re thrilled and grateful that Splendido allowed us to do this this year.”
Ackerman said the ticket sales alone (at $750 a seat) raised a notable amount of money, along with considerable donations made directly to the IRC from a QR-code-linked label on every table.
“It was so great to see that the community came out and donated in addition to the seat price,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman hopes this event inspires other diners and restaurants to help the industry if they are in a position to do so. Similar events like this one at Splendido, called the Blue Tape Project, along with efforts like independent donations and giving a percentage of sales can all help.
“Nothing is going to bounce back like they thought it would in certain areas,” Ackerman said. “We were lucky here. That’s why we did this.”
Residents of the Chateau Beaver Creek also sponsored a table of 10 that was filled with local first responders.
“I really just continue to be overwhelmed with the generosity of this community, of the Vail Valley,” said Matthew McConnell, Splendido’s general manager. “How continually everybody rises to the occasion and asks, ‘How can I help?’”
How can you help?
The IRC was formed by chefs and independent restaurant owners across the country who have built a grassroots movement to secure vital protections for the nation’s 500,000 independent restaurants and the more than 11 million restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Colorado’s own Bobby Stuckey, owner and master sommelier of Frasca Food and Wine Group in Boulder, was a founder of the IRC and paired donated wines for the fundraising dinner at Splendido.
“The IRC just started a year ago next week,” he said. “We’re a new organization which has luckily been able to do some major accomplishments, but we have so much more work to do. Our industry is so fragile. And I don’t think we understood the fragility until this year. And we’re going to work on other initiatives after we get through this pandemic. And that’s why this night is so important.”
The enthusiasm around support for the IRC and restaurants everywhere was palpable throughout the evening. Beyond the money they donated, people were asking how else to help.
“The most important thing to do is to go spend money in the restaurants literally closest to you — that keeps it really simple,” Zimmern said. “The other thing that I would urge people to do is go to saverestaurants.com which is the Independent Restaurant Coalition’s website.”
You can donate directly on the IRC website and also learn about all the efforts to support restaurants and bars that are currently in motion.
“Cut and paste something that is important to you and send it to everyone on your email list,” Zimmern said. “Awareness raising about what’s actually going on on Capitol Hill and behind the scenes in restaurants is part of the big reveal that we’re trying to pull off here. So it’s education, awareness and money.”
Discussions all around had a similar theme, and Zimmern coined it poignantly:
“It may be easy to forget how many people are out there suffering during this pandemic, but it’s hard to find an industry that has suffered as much as the independent restaurant industry,” he said.
Saving restaurants starts with one local meal at a time. Dine-in, take-out, gift cards — everything adds up to help struggling establishments around us.
“The whole genesis of this is that we all love this industry so much. We all love people. We all love service and just giving,” McConnell said. “And it’s been such a hard year, not only financially; this is not only people’s livelihoods, this is who they are — this is their heart and their soul.”
Learn more about supporting the Independent Restaurant Coalition and donate at saverestaurants.com.