Well-known D.C. chef Geoff Tracy has come up with an idea to support his employees and help the community while keeping the kitchens going at Chef Geoff’s in Northwest D.C. and Lia’s in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
It’s just one strategy small businesses and restaurants are adopting in order to try to stay afloat during the economically crippling coronavirus outbreak.
“First we got the takeout and delivery rolling, and got some people hired again … we also set up a neighborhood pantry where we basically sell items that the community needs right now: gloves, bleach, tissues, toilet paper. I’ve got pasta, pasta sauces, some snacks, cold drinks,” said Tracy.
The interesting twist to the pantry sales is that all profits go to the staff.
“I buy the roll of toilet paper for 50 cents, we sell it for one dollar, my staff gets to keep all the profits and I just keep buying toilet paper. We’re actually selling about $400 worth of this stuff a day, and so that’s $200 into the pockets of the people working that day. And they all split it evenly from the dishwashers, to the people working up front, to the cooks in the kitchen,” Tracy said.
Some carryout customers have been surprised and pleased to buy some things at the pop-up pantries.
“People were like, ‘wow, you have gloves?'” Tracy said. “You could order a house-made rigatoni with Italian sausage and parmesan and get a roll of toilet paper with it.”
Tracy said some customers have been so generous with tips, it moved staff members to tears.
It’s not the only effort by the long-time D.C.-based chef to support staff members during the crisis.
The restaurants will be offering a packaged Easter brunch and Easter dinner deliveries featuring spiral ham or beef tenderloin.
The $25 delivery charge will go directly to the drivers, some of whom will be members of the restaurants’ laid-off staff.
- Sign up for news alerts from WTOP
- How to run the ‘virtual’ Cherry Blossom races on Sunday
- How Montgomery County is trying to lighten the load of strained ERs
- Maryland soccer club donates meals to hospitals
- DC-area fire and police departments make coronavirus contingency plans
- Coronavirus test results in D.C., Maryland and Virginia
- Coronavirus FAQ: What you need to know