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Salt Lake City’s bar and restaurant workers laid off because of closures during the coronavirus pandemic and Wednesday’s earthquake can get some relief, thanks in part to TV star and bar owner Ty Burrell.
The “Modern Family” actor and his wife, Holly, have teamed up with the city and the Downtown Alliance to create a program — “Tip Your Server” — to give grants of $2,000 to employees of any Salt Lake City restaurant or bar who have been laid off recently.
Some 15,000 people work in Salt Lake City’s bars and restaurants, according to the city’s figures.
The Burrells — part owners of Bar X and Beer Bar in Salt Lake City, as well as Holladay’s Cotton Bottom Inn and Park City’s The Eating Establishment — are making a $100,000 contribution to launch the grant program. Another $2,500 has been donated in the first hours since the Downtown Alliance posted the announcement Friday on its website. Donations are tax-deductible.
Details of how the grants will be distributed are still being worked out, but will be ready by Wednesday and that’s the day the city is asking restaurant and bar employers to submit information.
In a statement, Derek Miller, the Downtown Alliance’s president and CEO, praised the Burrells’ generosity, and urged others to donate. He also challenged Salt Lakers to a “pick-up pledge” of ordering three takeout meals from the city’s restaurants each week.
“I know the workers in the restaurant and bar industry are hurting right now and we’re working to help,” Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said in a statement.
Burrell first floated the idea Wednesday during a virtual town hall put on by Silicon Slopes, the nonprofit that supports Utah tech startups. He then approached Mendenhall and the Downtown Alliance to create the program.
In Wednesday’s town hall, Burrell said that as a former “terrible waiter,” he knows that “food and beverage employees … are a particularly vulnerable population, most often uninsured.”