Phil Long and his daughter raise $28K for Chophouse employees
Facebook Live concerts bring money in from all over the world
Phil, Facebook Live and Fireball helped raise over $28,000 for employees.
Phil Long, co-owner of the Vail and Beaver Creek Chophouse, has been cheering people up by doing concerts on Facebook Live for the past several Fridays at 5 p.m. His traditional “Throw Money at Me” tip jar has been traded in for a virtual form of payment. And the Fireball shots? They’re right next to Phil’s keyboard, but you have to shoot whatever liquor you have in your cabinet at home to play along.
Joining Phil in this effort was his 23-year-old daughter, Jessica, who had come home for a spring ski trip in March. She currently lives and works in New York City but with the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders, Jessica has been staying put in Eagle County.
For the past several Fridays, Phil and Jessica have been doing Facebook Live shows from Phil’s basement in Eagle. After two nights of concerts, the duo raised over $10,000. Jessica designated half of that amount to the New York City mayor’s COVID-19 relief fund and Phil sent his half to the Eagle Valley Community Foundation.But they weren’t done yet. Little did they know they were about to raise another $28,000.
“It’s rare when you are really, truly surprised about something. I mean, I’m truly surprised that the world is shut down right now, but I’m very surprised at the amount of money that’s been donated. We are so humbled by it,” Phil said. “It’s a huge testament to our customer base and those who visit Vail often.”
There was an anonymous donor who pledged to match donations up to $5,000. Another donor also pledged to match donations up to $5,000 and then added $5,000 more the next day.
Phil and Jessica said there were people tuning in from 25 states and five countries. The live show had 7,000 views and 32 people shared it. This fundraiser on April 17 earned funds for the Vail and Beaver Creek Chophouse employees.
“When the staff heard about this, they were really appreciative. A lot of them posted comments during the show expressing their gratitude for everyone’s generosity,” Jessica said. “A lot of the people who work here have been here a long time and are well known and loved by our customers because they make them feel welcome and special. This shows that the feeling is mutual.”
“Any little bit helps,” Phil added. “Whether we could earn a big or a small amount, we wanted them to know that we care for them.”
The Longs were also assisted by family, friends and neighbors who helped put these shows together. Phil’s girlfriend, Vivian Christian, would follow the hundreds of greetings, comments, and requests on the Facebook Live account and relay the information to Phil and Jessica. John Long, Phil’s son and Jessica’s brother and family friend and fellow quarantine buddy, Matt Genelin made cameo appearances as well.
“We could not have done this without our friends Justin McNulty and Brad Korell, they really are the ones who made the fundraising possible by setting up all the accounts for people to give virtually,” Phil said. “It was like we had a whole production team helping us out.”
Jessica said friends supported them through the windows, too. “My childhood friend Amie Hixon and her mom Lori would bring little chairs down into our window well with their cooler of drinks and wave and cheer us on,” Jessica said. “Even though we were separated by glass, it was so cool to have them near.”
The fundraising concerts are over, but Phil and Jessica still plan to make music on Friday nights. “It’s so fun, we think we’re going in with a plan, and then it just changes based on comments we get on Facebook Live,” Jessica said. “It’s our way of giving back.”
If you’d still like to contribute to the Vail and Beaver Creek Chophouse employee fund, you can do so in the following ways: