The COVID-19 shutdown struggle spares no one and that includes Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood. Staff at the legendary restaurant, seen in countless TV shows, is getting an assist from the community.
Photos of happier times were shared Wednesday night by an owner who admits 2020 dealt a body blow to a landmark family business.
"Until the shutdown orders of March 15. When the pandemic first hit, a little over three months, we just were completely dark. Didn’t do takeout delivery or anything," said Musso & Frank Grill owner Mark Echevarria.
Musso and Frank briefly re-opened but outdoor dining was unworkable and takeout unsustainable. The owners went into their own pockets and depleted PPP funds to maintain healthcare for 84 furloughed employees, many of whom worked at the restaurant for decades.
"Not knowing when they’re going to be able to work again, also how they’re going to juggle their personal finances? It has been incredibly difficult on them," said Echevarria.
But crisis gave way to kindness as longtime customers picked up on the workers’ plight, starting with unsolicited checks in the mail. It inspired the owners to launch a GoFundMe for all of the workers.
"The fund is set up to continue paying for healthcare for them. The family has paid 100 percent of the healthcare throughout the pandemic and will continue this,” Echevarria said.
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From hostesses to cooks, bartenders, servers, and dishwashers, employees will also get cash for the holidays. And a cut of the profits from Musso website merchandise.
The owners say the goal is mutually beneficial -- surviving brutal and unpredictable times.
"We’re going to be that place that didn’t change. That’s what Musso’s is. In Hollywood. Looking forward to that opportunity. Inviting everybody back in," said Echevarria.