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The Power 20: Pandemic Heroes

The Power 20: Pandemic Heroes

Greg Baxtrom

Baxtrom gave away lunches for hospital workers and offered free food for laid-off restaurant workers.

The Power 20: Pandemic Heroes

Andrew and Lauren Gruel

Andrew Gruel, founder of the Slapfish fast-casual chain, and his wife, Lauren, knew first-hand the hardships faced by the restaurant industry amid the COVID crisis.

Kevin Martinez, the chef at Tokyo Cafe in Fort Worth, Texas, started by donating meals to industry workers who were laid off at the pandemic’s outset.

The Barstool Fund has raised more than $36 million to date from contributors and people who buy shirts on the fund’s sites. The fund has supported 295 restaurants.

Even as many restaurants were struggling to get by, the chain stepped up to help those in need with a heavily discounted item called the Wichita Proud Box

Toups rallied fellow restaurateurs and suppliers, and Toups Meatery soon began serving family meal to 400 to 500 people a day.

Erick Williams opened Chicago’s Virtue Restaurant in 2018 with a commitment to promoting social justice and the African American culinary legacy.

For this year’s Power 20 list, RB is recognizing restaurant folks who amplified their community outreach efforts during the pandemic. These operators stepped up in a big way to feed the hungry, organize relief programs for unemployed restaurant workers, advance social justice in the industry and raise funds to help those in need. Meet our 20 local heroes.

Co-founder Randy DeWitt decided to use the facility to produce 1,000 meal kits a day.

The three-part program encourages people to buy restaurant gift cards or pick up a meal from a favorite spot and share it on social media using the #StepUpToTheTable hashtag.

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