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The coronavirus crisis came to Michigan just as Detroit's Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles returned from a hiatus. The restaurant was forced to quickly adapt, installing plexiglass panes and pivoting to takeout service.
Thanks to a $2.5 million grant from the Michigan Department of Treasury, the state's restaurant and hospitality workers impacted by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic can apply to receive payments of up to $500.
According to a press release from the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, applicants "must be Michigan residents and demonstrate proof of employment in the hospitality industry on March 10, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Michigan, as well as proof of furlough or job loss in the wake of that date."
The funds will be dispersed until they run out. Workers can apply to receive the funds beginning Tuesday, Sept. 22 through Thursday, Oct. 1 at mrlaef.org/relief-fund
"We are thankful to Governor Whitmer and the Michigan legislators for their support of the state’s hospitality workers," Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association president and CEO Justin Winslow said in a statement. "This important funding will make a difference for thousands of Michigan’s hospitality workers who have been struggling to survive after losing full-time work and high-paying jobs because of the pandemic. More than half of the 600,000 hospitality workers in Michigan temporarily lost their jobs and too many restaurants across the state were unable to reopen after the shutdown."
The coronavirus has hit the restaurant industry particularly hard. Restaurants could apply for Paycheck Protection Program aid from the federal government, but with restaurants forced to operate at lower capacities to comply with Whitmer's safety measures, it doesn't make sense to hire back all employees.
Some restaurants have been forced to close, like the buzzy Magnet in Detroit's Core City neighborhood. A recent Metro Times cover story
looked at the challenges restaurants face in navigating the pandemic.
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