While one Detroit restaurant continues to make adjustments in the everchanging landscape of the pandemic, its founder and employees are looking for ways to lift up other local service industry professionals who are suffering financially.
Stephen Roginson, the founder of Batch Brewing Company in Corktown, said the restaurant has not had indoor dining since March. He said they built a large pavilion in their parking lot, a permanent beer garden called the “Fauci Fieldhouse.”
In the fall, he had an idea to share in the wealth of the space.
“It’s unusual, it’s atypical to have this much outdoor space,” said Stephen. “We’ve got a lot of square feet of socially-distanced, heated, somewhat climate-controlled space, so we’re offering other restaurants to be able to use that seating.”
Since November, Stephen has made half of their six operating days available to other area restaurants who don’t have access to outdoor seating, calling them ‘pop-ups.’
The other restaurants are able to sell food that day while Batch Brewing Company serves the beer. That was just the start.
Stephen said he wanted to hold a pay-what-you-can pig and veggie roast for guests in the industry who were on hard times, so he teamed up with the Detroit BBQ Company for the cookout. But when people arrived, they started giving money, a lot of it.
“We raised over $6,000 and didn’t intend to raise any money,” said Stephen.
So, he started to build a fund through The Feelgood Tap, a nonprofit that aims to make philanthropy collaborative within the service industry. Stephen is a board chair for the organization and acting executive director. He said there was also about $26,000 saved to be able to hire a permanent executive director for the nonprofit, but he decided that money could be better used to help people right now.
Stephen said his hope is to be able to distribute about $40,000-$50,000 to service industry professionals starting next week.
"It’ll put some groceries in refrigerators and pay some utility bills for a few people," he said.
Moving forward, Stephen said he is going to work with Detroit Kitchen Terminal, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing repeat incarceration by training workers to thrive in the city’s restaurant industry, to distribute additional funds.
To make a donation to Stephen’s efforts, go here.