NJ businesses fundraising online to pay workers
On a busy day, SuzyQue's BBQ & Bar would have 25 workers on the clock.
With dine-in service banned in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, some days the West Orange eatery is manned by only two workers.
"Most of my employees, if not all of them, probably work paycheck to paycheck," said owner Susan Hoffberg.
Hoffberg, while waiting on any potential perks from loans and federal relief packages, is among the countless New Jersey employers turning to online fundraising in order to offer their workers some type of compensation during the public health emergency.
A GoFundMe campaign she launched had raised more than $2,800 as of late Wednesday afternoon. Hoffberg entered a financial goal of $20,000, but said she's grateful for any donation.
"My normal payroll is about $7,500, so I figured $20,000 would cover a couple of weeks," Hoffberg said.
Within four days, $1,150 had been raised through a GoFundMe campaign created by the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, which is completely closed until the spread of the coronavirus is controlled and restaurants/bars can reopen to customers.
"Everybody, of course, is going to be asked to come back," said general manager Nick Falco.
Falco said management is interested in giving Visa gift cards to the close to 50 employees who aren't needed right now. They don't want employees thinking they're "out of sight, out of mind" when the doors are closed.
"We're still thinking about you guys and making sure you're okay," he said.
In mid-March, restaurants and bars were limited to take-out and delivery service only, in an effort to stem the spread of the disease, while casinos, racetracks, movie theaters and other businesses were completely closed indefinitely. Days later, all non-essential retail establishments were forced to close their doors.
"One of the things that has gotten lost a little bit throughout this crisis is just how emotional it can be for employers to let their employees go," said Bob Considine, a spokesman for the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. "Even those who are in a better financial position still need revenue to come in to pay for their workers."
"So with all of that, it's not surprising to hear of some creative ways to pay their own workers during this time," Considine said. "Letting their workers go is literally the last thing they want to do."