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Bay Area Restaurants Step Up To Give Back During Uncertain Times Of COVID-19 Pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) - Many restaurants across the Bay Area are facing a bleak outlook during the shelter-in-place order. Some have been forced to close for good, others indefinitely.

But several chefs and restaurateurs are stepping up to give to people in need, including furloughed employees and their families, and healthcare workers.

The traditional "family meal," which is the daily staff meal in the restaurant industry looks very different these days, inside the kitchen, at Michael Mina's PABU, in the Financial District.

Each night, the award-winning chef and restaurateur has a small team prepping free meals for his more than 500 staff members he was forced to furlough when the shelter-in-place order went into effect.

"It was absolutely the hardest work-related challenge I've ever been through," said Mina.

Mina also set up a relief fund for his dedicated team.

"You can't put it into words because your employees - they're the reason you are who you are. People like myself - chefs - we get a lot of publicity and everything else, the reality is it's the people everyday, supporting you and giving you the ability to push the envelope."

Out of the coronavirus pandemic, Mina created Mina Family Kitchen. Customers can order to-go from a special menu featuring a variety dishes from chef partners. The sales directly support hot meals for his staff, now out of work, and their families.

At Mina's Trailblazer Tavern, workers are also preparing 200 meals to drop off at San Francisco hospitals Saturday evening.

Across town on Divisidero, the ever-popular Che Fico, known for its constant line out the door, still has a line outside every night. But now, it's for people to pick-up free food, no questions asked.

Chef David Nayfeld started with donated funds from investor and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, to produce 40 meals a night. Now, his downstairs operation Che Fico Alimentari is packing up 300 boxes a night.

"We've been able to galvanize the community to give if they're able to give, but also to kind of break down some of those barriers of maybe people were kind of embarrassed at first to say 'Hey I'm on hard times right now and I could really use a meal," said Chef Ficeo & Chef Fico Alimentari Co-Owner David Nayfeld.

Customers can also donate meals or order to-go through the Che Fico Family Meal, or through Venmo at @chefico.

Nayfeld says so far, donations have reached $30,000, which have allowed Che Fico to hand out 3,000 meals and counting.

St. Helena-founded Gott's Roadside, which has multiple Bay Area locations, says there has been a steep drop in sales. Still, 100 percent of its sales through pickup and delivery services is going to Gott's employees.

San Francisco's Andytown Coffee Roasters has lost its daily rush of customers, but it's encouraging people to buy coffee, juice, granola bars and pastries that it will deliver to healthcare workers every day.

Customers responded immediately. In its first day, they purchased more than $20,000 worth. Andytown says that's enough for them to make drop-offs to, at least, one hospital a day for the next two months.

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