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Bartenders’ Benevolent Fund More Than Just The Tip Jar…

The Beverage Alcohol industry and the ancient and ubiquitous fraternity of bartenders form a classic symbiotic relationship. One can’t exist without the other. Now, as restaurant employees struggle to survive under the COVID-19 lock down, the booze makers are offering their support…

It’s as true today as it was in 1966, when Canadian Club ran the full-page ad, left, extolling the versatility and virtuosity of bartenders. Alas, the talented guys and gals on the other side of the brass rail often go underappreciated.

Restaurants Canada, an industry association that represents 1.2 million Canadians employed in the foodservice sector, estimates 800,000 bartenders, servers, hosts and kitchen staff have been put out of work since March 1 as restaurants and bars across the country have been forced to shut down or, at the very least, have been forced to offer only delivery or take-out options.

Now is an ideal time to show your appreciation with a donation to their support fund.

Enter, the Bartenders Benevolent Fund

Unless you were employed in the industry, I’ll bet you never knew – until now – that such an organization as The Bartenders’ Benevolent Fund (BBF) even existed. According to its website, “The Bartenders Benevolent Fund is a non-profit financial resource for bartenders, servers and FOH [Front Of House] support staff working in the hospitality industry in Canada. We provide funding for those who have fallen under serious financial hardship and our mission is to work in earnest to ensure that those in need can make ends meet.”

The BBF only came to my attention over the past couple of days because two of Canada’s largest makers of Distilled Spirits partnered to make a sizeable donation to its cause. Corby Spirit and Wine Ltd. makes Canadian Brands including the JP Wiser products, and represents a large portfolio of prestige global brands including The Glenlivet, Polar Ice, Jamieson’s, Beefeater and Khalua. Diageo Canada represent such top-line brands as Crown Royal, Johnny Walker, J&B, Smirnoff, Tanqueray and Ketel One. They’ve put together a joint contribution of (C)$100,000 to help the BBF to support its members as they weather the COVID-19 storm.

Interests go hand-in-glove

“We remain committed to supporting our industry employees across Canada,” said Patrick O’Driscoll, CEO of Corby. “We are proud to join our industry partner in an effort to make a difference by providing financial assistance to hospitality employees across Canada.”

“We are experiencing an incredibly challenging time in the Canadian hospitality industry,” said Jodi Rumble, VP and General Manager of Diageo Canada. “Through this joint effort, Diageo Canada is proud to further our commitment to supporting the hardworking community of bartenders, bar staff and front-line workers across the country.”

A worst-case scenario

Donations to the BBF are desperately needed. And it’s estimated that at least 10 per cent of the estimated 800,000 bar and server staff put out of work by the COVID-19 lock down won’t have jobs to go back to once the restaurants reopen for normal service, probably later this summer or in the fall. Many small, non-chain restos have already closed their doors for good.

You can help support your fave local restaurants and their staff by making your own donation to the BBF. Visit the BBF’s PayPal page and open your heart by opening your wallet.

Bartenders may also want to check out the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association (CPBA), a full-service professional association offering a wide variety of supports and resources.

~ Maggie J.