Food & Drink

6 fund drives for idled Detroit cooks, bakers, servers: This 1 does far better than others


March 28, 2020, 2:30 PM by  Alan Stamm

No kitchen prep, no grills or ovens to light, no tables to serve, no scones to bake, no drafts to draw, cocktails to mix, bottles to uncork. More to the point: no cash registers working, no tips left, no paychecks for most food and beverage workers in this time of pestilence. 

To supplement state jobless benefits, and before federal relief payments got a green light Friday, some Detroit owners and managers launched GoFundMe drives for sidelined workers.

Results vary, naturally. Some spots have bigger followings, some have loyalists who can be more generous, some are more active on social media, some have small staffs. Plus, all request donations at a time when charities, perfroming arts organizations and other do-gooders hit our feeds and inboxes daily.

Below is a look at six Detroit crowdfund appeals so you can see how each is doing after up to two weeks, and ideally click through to those you can support.


These small businesses and a West Village bakery raise $29,113 in 550 donations.

Totals range from $3,245 for 14 Marble Bar employees in NW Goldberg to $14,673 for 12 team members at Sister Pie bakery in West Village. Those two small businesses are nearly $11,500 apart in support generated. Marble Bar gets 57 gifts so far, while the bakeshop draws 308.

The beneficiaries, alphabetically:

Bobcat Bonnie's, $5,387: An appeal started by owner Matthew Buskard attracts 109 donors so far toward a $35,000 goal. "These funds will go to support the staff at all five locations, which is why the amount is high. Small businesses are being killed right now -- if you can help it would mean so much."

► Madcap Coffee, $5,389: Ninety-six donors step up since March 18 to give help toward a $20,000 goal benefitting "baristas and roastery employees, many of who depend on tips to maintain a livable wage." 

Marble Bar, $3,345: Fifty-seven people kick in toward a $15,000 target. "Helping us reach our asked goal will help to provide 14 employees with their very most basic needs for one month," posts Kory Trinks. The neighborhood bar on Holden Street also raises money by selling $20 T-shirts, $35 long-sleeve crews and $40 zip-up hoodies at this merch page. Those proceeds will go to staff as well. 

Rose's Fine Food, $3,893: Fifty-two donors support a pitch with a $10,000 goal "to cover the payroll for the staff of Rose’s Fine Food while we close for their health and safety," as owner Molly Mitchell posts. 

Sister Pie, $16,863: This five-year-old darling of New Detroit exceeds its $12,000 goal for 12 employees in just four days with money from 314 admirers. The Kercheval Avenue bakery-cafe closed Saturday after take-out lunches, groceries and baked goods during the past two weeks.
"Our priority is people and right now that means we want to keep our neighbors and ourselves safe and well," founder Lisa Ludwinski posts. "Your patronage of our grocery option and lunch take-out (in addition to your GoFundMe donations) has allowed us to give our staff a cushion of financial support before heading into the unknown future. We feel the love." 

Two James Spirits, $2,050: Twenty-five people kick in so far, including seven gifts of $100 or more. (One couple gave $500 Thursday.) "Our bar staff is comprised of the most amazing human beings on the face of this planet and the COVID-19 shutdown of restaurants and bars is really going to affect them negatively," office manager Erika Rice posts with a $5,000 goal. "We are feeling pretty powerless over here and wanted to do something for the wonderful people we are lucky enough to call our work family."
The craft distiller is selling bottles at its Michigan Avenue the tasting room in Corktown each Wednesday through Saturday from noon-3 p.m., with 20 percent of proceeds divided among laid-off staff members.  



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