The foodservice industry is home to countless people who have mastered their individual trades. And then there’s Tobin Ellis. Anyone who has ever spent five minutes with Ellis, founder of hospitality design firm BarMagic, can not only speak to his passion and dedication but will also tell you how much it rubs off on you. So, it should come as no surprise that Ellis can’t sit idly by and watch COVID-19 inflict so much pain among the many professionals that comprise the foodservice industry.
Across all segments, the foodservice and hospitality industry is there when people need them the most. From celebrating life’s milestone moments to helping recover from surgeries or other health-related issues to mourning the loss of a loved one, through their operations, foodservice and hospitality members always lend support. “We make it happen and do it with a smile on our face. Now we need some taking care of,” Ellis said. “If nobody is going to come, fine, we will do it on our own. But this may be the first time when we might not be able to do it on our own. Messages of hope are important, but people really need to see what’s going on.”
And through the Hospitality Relief Dashboard, Ellis has created an interactive, GPS-like resource that can do just that.
At his own expense, Ellis has set up the Hospitality Relief Dashboard. This online portal provides help and support to the culinary, foodservice and hospitality industries via more than 300 hospitality relief resources and news items he updates daily.
The dashboard features an interactive map of North America that on a state by state basis lists a series of relief-oriented links and news stories to help keep hospitality professionals up to date on that’s happening in their respective markets. While people commonly use the term "crowdsourcing" when it comes to raising money, in this case it applies to the collecting of information. Anyone with a resource can instantly submit it to the Hospitality Relief Dashboard.
The information available on this website is significant in both its depth and breadth. It has something for hospitality workers looking for immediate relief and support; bar, restaurant, and hospitality owners and managers looking for small business resources, information and relief; as well as anyone who wants to donate or otherwise help the industry.
And if you want to donate some money to Ellis to help support this initiative, well, forget about it. “We do not accept any funding; every dollar available should be going direct to our hospitality families that need it most right now,” Ellis said. “The goal is to help cut through all the benevolent noise and provide one source for fast, intuitive and constantly updated hospitality relief resources. Nothing more.”
Ellis is not alone in this endeavor, which launched on March 19. He’s working with a handful of tireless volunteers who share his desire to ease the pain of the many members of the restaurant, bar and hospitality industry.
Ellis and his team have three clear objectives. First is triage – they want to stop or at least slow the bleeding the industry continues to experience. Second, they want to help owners keep their restaurants and bars open for business so they can continue to employ people, both near and long-term. And, finally, they want to help build an infrastructure that protects the industry and supports it in the future.
“I want to help this be more real for people who could do more or maybe they wanted to but did not know where to go,” Ellis said. “We need a message of help and one without the other does not have the same impact.”