HospitalityMaine Education Foundation Supports Restaurant Relief Fund
PORTLAND, Maine — Rustica Cucina Italiana in Rockland and Smitty's Cinema in Windham are the premiere recipients of the Maine Restaurant Relief Fund.
During a livecast from O'Maine Studios in Portland on Sunday, the grantees (pictures attached) were announced and Zoomed in to accept the financial boost. Both operations will receive $5,000 to help rebuild and restore their distressed businesses.
“Every little bit helps to get us through the winter,” said an emotional John Stowe, chef/owner of Rustica, who was choked up by the unexpected windfall.
Albert Waitt of Smitty's said his cinema/dining hybrid was hit hard by the pandemic. The funds "allows us to provide PPE for staff," and keep them employed he explained.
While donations streamed in during the live fundraiser, which includes a cook-along, a bulk of the grants are made possible through corporate sponsorships from Hannaford, Bangor Savings Bank, Cross Insurance and Oakhurst.
The fundraiser, called Re-Up ME, was created to help distressed restaurant owners in all 16 counties left struggling from the pandemic. The chef-lead effort seeks to fill the financial gap allowing restaurateurs to make it to next summer.
“Re-Up ME places a spotlight on the struggles facing all our independent restaurants across the state,” said Steve Hewins, president and CEO of HospitalityMaine. The association's education foundation help make these grants a reality. “We hope to help as many restaurants as possible, of all sizes, survive through the winter and sustain themselves into the future.”
By December, Re-Up ME intends to dispense 100 grants, said Rory Strunk, CEO of O’Maine Studios. “The grants give the restaurant owners hope and a spirit to fight another day,” said Strunk.
There is still time to apply or donate. More recipients will be announced on this week’s Sunday Supper livecast, Sept. 20th at www.TasteMaine.com at 5 p.m.
Here's the link to the broadcast: https://youtu.be/ZFZVSE_c0Ug