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From the May issue of (614 ) Magazine…
Matt Heaggans, Service! Relief Effort
By Mitch Hooper
When the COVID-19 outbreak hit Ohio and the city watched as many bars and restaurants closed indefinitely, Matt Heaggans and his team asked: how could they best help out?
Between himself and Catie Randazzo, both chefs and co-founders of Muse Hospitality which operates restaurants such as Preston’s and Ambrose & Eve, they had first-hand accounts of how this was impacting servers, bartenders, and all the like. Folks, to put it bluntly, are out-of-work and looking for a new means of financial stability as they face the waves of struggles in filing for unemployment. And life doesn’t slow down, either; rent is still due, bills still need paid, and food still has to find its way onto tables.
Through methodic planning, connections throughout the city, and more restaurant owners hopping aboard, Service! was born. This relief effort has a two-prong goal; provide 400 meals a day, seven days a week to servers and bartenders in-need, and open up an income opportunity for those preparing these meals, distributing the meals, and delivering the meals.
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“We recognize that we are going to be coming into a phase here where a lot of people are going to need a lot of help,” said Heaggans.
“The thing we’re good at is feeding people so we felt like that was the best way we could make the biggest impact. […] It’s feeding people, that’s the thing. That’s the core concept we’ve all chosen to be a part of is taking care of people with food.”
Now, Service! operates on a complex level to stay in line with social distancing orders. A central kitchen cooks and prepares all the meals so that when they arrive to a server or bartender at home, all they have to do is pop it in the microwave and heat it up. But, before the food can make it to the door of those in-need, Service! has set up a distribution system where meals are transported to a pick-up and delivery center where more folks will work to either hand-deliver meals, or prepare the meals for scheduled pick-up.
And while Service! is feeding those in-need, it also has a third goal: bring awareness to the plight of small businesses.
“When we come out on the other side of [this], we’re going to all be seeking some sense of normalcy and a lot of the things that make us feel normal are in danger right now,” Heaggans said. “We work in small businesses, we work with people that we care about. We’re always making sure people have the time off they need, or providing raises when we can. We go through life situations with people—when they are sick, or they lose people in their family, or they have kids. We are right there with them going through those things as well. We have a vested interest in making sure those people are okay because we care about them deeply.”