Heard on CultureShift

With No Support From Government, Detroit Restaurants Step Up To Support Service Industry Workers

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Image credit: Meta Stange/WDET

An “accidental fundraiser” hosted by Batch Brewing Company has turned into nearly $50,000 for service industry workers in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck. Other bars and restaurants are joining the call to support local hospitality workers.

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The owner of Batch Brewing Company didn’t set out to raise nearly $50,000 for service industry workers in Detroit, but his Saturday cookouts ended up doing just that.

It was an accidental fundraiser,” says Stephen Roginson, who owns the Corktown, Detroit-based brewery. “The original intent wasn’t to raise money. It was to get together with some friends from the industry.”

Roginson is throwing another pay-what-you-can dinner on Saturday, December 12 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. for service industry workers affected by the latest pause on indoor dining in Michigan, which was recently extended to December 20. The CARES Act, which acted as a lifeline for many service industry workers earlier this spring, is set to expire on December 26.


Listen: Stephen Roginson of Batch Brewing Co. talks about his efforts to raise money for service industry workers in Detroit:


Stephen Roginson from Batch Brewing Company has helped raise thousands for service industry workers in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck that have been affected by the latest COVID-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants.Ryan Patrick Hooper
Ryan Patrick Hooper

Stephen Roginson from Batch Brewing Company has helped raise thousands for service industry workers in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck that have been affected by the latest COVID-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants.

Batch is hosting the dinners alongside Felony Provisions and Detroit BBQ Co.

The brewery has been raising the relief fund for service industry workers in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park through their non-profit arm Feelgood Tap.

Roginson says a lot of donations have come from customers looking to donate to the cause. “There’s a real desire to support the impacted service industry employees who are unemployed or under-employed,” says Roginson.

According to Roginson, about 220 people have applied for funds so far. He estimates that each applicant will get roughly $200 to $250 depending on how many contributions are made to the fund.

Roginson says funds will begin to be issued early next week. Anyone interested in applying can do so via this form, which is still open to new applicants.

$40,000 to $50,000 is not a lot of money. This is a band-aid,” says Roginson. “The restaurant industry nationally has over 13 million employees. The auto industry has 1.7 million. There have been big bailouts for industries that are struggling and suffering. Right now, the restaurant industry needs the federal government to step up.”


Looking for support? Here are funds available to service industry workers affected by COVID-19:

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Ryan Patrick Hooper, Host, CultureShift

Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. As a longtime arts and culture reporter and photographer, Hooper has covered stories for NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.

hooper@wdet.org Follow @HooperRadio

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