Following the mandate for all Travis County eateries to suspend dine-in services due to COVID-19 concerns, local restaurant owners Tony Ciola and Creed Ford IV are working to aid their 200 employees, 90% of whom have been furloughed.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order March 19 that, among other directives, closed all restaurants’ dine-in operations to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Though businesses are permitted to remain open for delivery and takeout orders, the shift has been devastating for many businesses.
Ciola and Ford own Tc4 & Co., which operates The League Kitchen & Tavern and Tony C’s Coal Fired Pizza. Since the takeout-only mandate was issued last week, they have been collecting funds through a GoFundMe page and have pledged to match the first $10,000 in donations.
The fundraiser was established March 20, and as of March 23, it has raised nearly $7,600. The money will be distributed to furloughed Tc4 & Co. employees based on average hours worked, the businessmen said.
“My first job was as a dishwasher,” Ciola said, adding both he and Creed grew up working in the service industry and that they both come from families that owned and worked in restaurants.
“We know firsthand what it’s like to depend on every paycheck and tip to get by, and [we] feel for not only our team but all fellow industry members who are hurting right now,” Ciola said.
Together, Ciola and Creed own five restaurants in the Austin area, all of which are open for delivery and takeout orders.
Customers can purchase gift cards to both establishments online and receive $10 for every $50 purchased.