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Richmond Restaurant Raises Nearly $19,000 for Employees

Restaurant facade in residential neighborhood
Joe's Inn has raised almost $19,000 to help employees struggling during the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

*VPM intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story.

An online fundraiser to help workers at a Richmond restaurant has raised just under $19,000 in less than two weeks. 

Lars Reisinger is a manager at Joe’s Inn in the Fan neighborhood. He says the idea to start a GoFundMe campaign came about as he saw other restaurants take similar actions to help their employees. Then, he says, the campaign “just started blowing up.”

“I think this restaurant means a lot to people,” Reisinger said. “It's been in this one spot since 1952, and there's people who have been coming here that like literally their entire lives.”

Numerous businesses have been ordered to close their doors in the past weeks, to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease in Virginia. Restaurants are allowed to operate, but are limited to take out and delivery options. Reisinger says the staff at Joe’s Inn has decreased sharply -- from around 60 employees to just more than ten. Those who are still working have a reduced hourly pay, and everyone shares tips.

“A restaurant needs customers,” Reisinger said. “I kind of just thought Joe’s Inn was invincible, like, ‘Oh, you know, we can take care of some employees for a little bit or take care of folks.’ But the money isn't there. ”

Joe’s Inn was recently featured in a New York Times article about how different U.S. restaurants are faring amid the pandemic. A waitress described the situation as “humbling,” and said, “even though I lost my job after 20 years, it could be so much worse.”