More than 400 local bar, restaurant and hospitality workers whose establishments are either temporarily closed or operating at limited capacity because of COVID-19 have already signed up for a “virtual tip jar” that’s making the rounds in Baton Rouge.
It’s the brainchild of several Emergent Method team members who were concerned about their friends in the local service and hospitality industries, where business has been decimated in recent weeks. Inspired by a similar concept they read about in Indiana, they created a website—www.tipitforward.co—and began circulating it.
“Bar and restaurant owners have been completely floored by everything that’s happening with the pandemic, so anything that allows their staff to collect some sort of income has been very welcomed,” says John Snow, a partner at Emergent Method, who pitched the idea with co-workers Julie Laperouse and Therese Walker. “Their earnings and livelihoods went from mostly tips to maybe 10% to 0% of that.”
Here’s how it works: Waitstaff, bartenders and others complete a form, which adds their name, place of employment and Venmo or PayPal username to a Google spreadsheet. Anyone who wants to financially support workers from their favorite bars or restaurants can then visit the website to pull up the spreadsheet, find out a worker’s Venmo or PayPal information and tip them directly.
While Snow and his team aren’t able to track how much money is collected in virtual tips, he says demand is high. Also included in the 400-plus workers who have added their direct deposit information thus far are hairstylists, hotel employees and others whose establishments have been shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, says Snow, noting he’s seen consecutive upticks in worker sign-ups over the past few days.
“It’s a way for the local community to support folks whose establishments they would’ve been supporting ordinarily,” Snow says. Check out the website