Restaurants, bars, bakeries, and coffee shops are essential to the fabric of the neighborhoods they serve, and the people behind the counters and in the kitchens are what make the restaurant industry one of the most vibrant communities on TikTok. From the moment a friendly restaurant host greets you to the impeccable dining experience a waiter provides, the beautiful meal crafted by the chef, and the dishwashers and bussers that help re-set tables for hungry guests, it truly takes a village to keep the restaurant industry running like a well-oiled machine.

Today, the coronavirus pandemic has deeply affected many in the industry as restaurants, bars, and other independent food and beverage operations nationwide have been forced to close. It's critical to us to support an industry that has brought so much joy and connection to our communities, and we are proud to donate $4 million to the service industry – providing $2 million each to the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF) and the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund.

The James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund aims to provide critical financial assistance to small, independent restaurants who have an immediate need for funds to pay set operating expenses and keep from going out of business.

“We are incredibly grateful for TikTok’s generous donation and support during this challenging time,” said Kris Moon chief operating officer of the James Beard Foundation. “With this donation we will continue to provide the financial relief necessary to prevent the closure of independent food and beverage businesses, some of which wouldn’t be possible without donations of this magnitude.”

The NRAEF’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF) supports U.S. restaurant workers financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and industry icon Guy Fieri has led a nationwide fundraising drive for the Fund via a Restaurant Relief America campaign. Fieri is the renowned chef, restaurateur, author, and Emmy Award Winning television Host of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

The restaurant industry has been devastated by the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, with workers across the nation losing their jobs and livelihood due to forced business closures. The NRAEF created the fund to help those struggling workers, with 100 percent of the monies raised going to impacted restaurant workers.

“We are thrilled and inspired by TikTok’s commitment to help restaurant employees throughout the industry and across the country impacted by the COVID-19 crisis," said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF. "Thanks to their substantial donation we will have the ability to help thousands of people who are out of work and facing financial hardship." For the full story on how RERF was established by the NRAEF, check out Gifford’s longform blog post on LinkedIn.

This is an extraordinarily challenging time for everyone, and the restaurant industry will undoubtedly look very different after this unprecedented experience. Serving the communities most impacted by the coronavirus crisis is of utmost importance to us during this time, and this donation is only one of the many ways we are supporting vulnerable communities. Restaurant employees are essential to the survival of the industry and we stand in solidarity with them as we all anxiously wait for this moment in time to pass.  

To learn more and join us in protecting restaurant workers, visit the NRAEF RERF and/or the James Beard Foundation website.