WEST TOWN — While many Chicago restaurants have shifted to a carryout model to make ends meet during Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, one restaurant group is doing something different.
Instead of feeding customers, the Bonhomme Hospitality Group is cooking for its staff.
About two to three times per week , staffers can pick meal packages up at Beatnik, 1604 W. Chicago Ave. Social distancing is practiced during pick ups.
After furloughing about 400 workers, the group’s owners wanted to make sure staffers and their families had enough to eat, Bonhomme co-owner Dani Alonso said.
“We want everybody to go home with no less than eight to 10 meals on each of these days,” he said. “You can’t throw around words like ‘family’ and ‘team,’ and then turn your back on them in a time of crisis.”
The Bonhomme group owns Beatnik and Porto in West Town, Black Bull and Bordel in Wicker Park, Beatnik on the River in The Loop and Celeste in River North.
Those who cannot pick up their own meal packages are able to have them delivered by a fellow staffer.
The meals are being personally funded by the co-owners of the restaurant group, Alonso said.
“For us it’s critical,” he said. “I’m very happy and proud that we’re able to do so, but frankly it’s the very least we can do and we wish that we can do more.”
Anyone who works with Bonhomme throughout the year, including DJs and performers, can access the meal program, Alonso added.
In addition to feeding staffers and their families during the shut down, the Bonhomme partners is continuing to pay for their employees’ Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO health insurance plans.
All full time staff and part time staff who average 30 hours a week can access the health plans.
“That’s a little bit of piece of mind as well,” Alonso said. “Wherever we could alleviate concerns, provide piece of mind. … A little bit of the battle is won.”
Instead of a GoFundMe online fundraiser, Bonhomme is selling gift cards to help offset the costs associated with the shutdown.
“The gift cards the team friendly … [and] guest friendly because you’re getting something in return,” he said. “Once this is all over, and it will be over at some point, hopefully soon, you’re holding a gift card.”
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