A New Relief Initiative for New Orleans Bartenders and Barbacks
Mar 01 2021

A New Relief Initiative for New Orleans Bartenders and Barbacks

By: Laurel Shimasaki

The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation has announced they will be giving out $250 grants to eligible New Orleans bartenders and barbacks. In total, the "Mardi Gras Gives" relief initiative will give out $62,500 in support to eligible bar workers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you do that math there, that means 250 bartenders and barbacks will receive the $250 grants.

"Mardi Gras is traditionally New Orleans's largest revenue-generating holiday annually," Caroline Rosen, president of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, said in the press release about the relief initiative. "We know our bartending community is feeling the impact of the lost revenue this year as a result of the pandemic."

Beginning February 24th, eligible bartenders and barbacks were able to apply via talesofthecocktail.org/initiatives/grants. The online portal says it is open through March 31, 2021. However, the grants will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. In order to be eligible, applicants:

Must be working in Orleans Parish at standalone bars/nightclubs (hotels and restaurant bars do not qualify).

Must demonstrate that they had lost employment or were furloughed anytime between February 2020 and February 2021.

Applying is made simple through a short online survey. For those who do not have access to the Internet, you may call a Tales of the Cocktail Foundation representative at 504-948-0511, and they will help you fill out the form over the phone.

While the grants will be dealt out according to who hears the news earliest and applies first, notably, at least half of the grant money available is to be allocated for applicants who identify as women, are members of the BIPOC community, and/or are over the age of 60. The Tales Foundation has been working to negate systemic inequality issues since at least 2017 when they established a diversity council, hoping to "create an industry that's truly inclusive," Founder Ann Tuennerman said on a TOTC website post about the new council. "There are a lot of difficult discussions that need to be had. We're hoping that by bringing a group together to have these discussions, we'll be able to move towards actionable solutions."

The eligible bartenders and barbacks who are within the first 250 people to apply will receive a one-time payment of $250 within a month of review.

The "Mardi Gras Gives" initiative has the Tales Foundation working in partnership with local businesses like Gambino's King Cake Rum Cream and Gambino's Bakery, as well as others like Tequila Tromba USA, Republic National Distributing Company, Don Q Rum, Tito's Handmade Vodka, Remy Cointreau, Edrington, and 375 Park Avenue Spirits.

"We are incredibly grateful to have incredible partners who are stepping in to help offset these financial hardships for our industry," Rosen said. "This sense of community and taking care of one another is emblematic of New Orleans and the embodiment of the Mardi Gras spirit."

CEO of Tequila Tromba USA John Eason was born and raised in New Orleans. He attributes the city's bar scene as helping put him through college and for giving him a glimpse into the industry he would build a career in. In the press release, Eason spoke of how struck he was when he saw the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on NOLA's bar culture. "As I walked through the French Quarter, the severity of COVID and the Mardi Gras bar closings hit me hard," Eason said. Our bartenders and barbacks are hit the hardest. Losing the Mardi Gras season is a crippling blow to so many service people.

"$250 for 250 bartenders and barbacks doesn't begin to cover the loss or address the situation, but it does help some folks in need buy important things like groceries or pay a light bill," Eason added. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to give something back and to the companies that came together to help."

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