Chef Clark Grant and his wife, Lindsey Grant, a bar manager, were working in Kansas City’s hospitality industry when they found themselves furloughed from their restaurants due to the the COVID-19 crisis.
Now, with time on their hands and an interest to help others in the same boat, they put their heads together, along with a friend and fellow restaurant patron, to launch the KC Hospitality Support Initiative (KCHSI).
At its core, KCHSI is a website that sells sassy KC COVID-19 themed T-shirts and accepts donations that Clark will use to purchase Price Chopper grocery gift cards at a discount that will be donated to feed hospitality industry professionals drawn at random from their database.
“This industry spends their whole work lives nourishing and providing hospitality to their guests,” explains Clark. “They deserve a little grace and some of that hospitality back now.”
There are two T-shirt designs available for supporters to purchase on the site, "f*cKCovid-19" or "loKCal," both featuring an EKG line that turns into the Kansas City skyline, symbolizing that Kansas City will survive this crisis. The shirts come in white, gray, black or blue and sell for $26 each. Of that, $15 goes toward purchasing the grocery gift cards that will be given away, with the remaining $11 going toward hard costs like website hosting, credit card and online transaction fees, and a small administration fee that the Grants will pay themselves during this time.
“Lindsay and I have money saved, and I think we will both be okay, but we have the model built where we will receive something for managing the process, which is pretty manual at this point,” says Clark.
They are also accepting straight donations to their project to those who don’t need or want a T-shirt but still want to help feed a server, chef, bartender or dishwasher impacted by the COVID-19 situation.
Qualifying industry professionals who would like to put their name in the weekly drawing can sign up through their website and will be asked to fill out a short application. The application will ask for proof that they work in the industry, including a liquor card or food handler’s number.
Duplicate entries will be eliminated, so there is no need to sign up more than once. Clark plans to pull winners twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday, using the randomizer site random.org to keep things fair and impartial. He will contact the winners via email to tell them where they can pick up their free $50 grocery gift card.
“I am partnering with David Ball, owner of Ball’s Price Choppers, to purchase the grocery gift cards at a discount, and the winner of the drawings will then be able to pick up their card at one of their locations with photo identification,” says Clark.
On day one, Clark received enough T-shirt sales and donations to feed 12 people. Unfortunately, though, he has also had 75 industry professionals apply to receive them.
“This is why I am asking for everyone’s help, to donate what you can or buy a shirt and help me spread the word about this site and this initiative,” says Clark.
The folks at Crane Brewing Brewing did just that by offering a special deal to any service industry employees affected by the shutdown, as well as those with proof of donation to Clark’s KC Hospitality Support Initiative: a free 6-pack of Thundergong! beer, while supplies last.
This latest endeavor is just more proof that Kansas City will get through this together by supporting each other and feeding each other.
For more information about the KC Hospitality Support Initiative, or to buy a T-shirt, make a donation or sign up to receive a free $50 grocery gift card, visit kchsi.com.