Chicago Restaurant Workers Relief Fund

 If you have an emergency, please call 911.

Donate to help support Chicago restaurant workers.

The Chicago Restaurant Workers Relief Fund was created to help Chicago restaurant, bar and coffee shop workers who are experiencing hardship from the COVID-19 crisis. This fund will provide emergency relief grants based on need to these workers who have lost wages or employment due to the shutdown for the pandemic.

Grants will be awarded to applicants who meet eligibility requirements, including demonstrated need, as assessed by Southern Smoke Foundation.

This fund is specifically for restaurant, bar and coffee shop workers who are or were employed in Cook County, Illinois. If you work in other food and beverage roles, including farmers, distillery workers, winemakers, beverage delivery drivers, etc., or work outside of Cook County, you can apply to Southern Smoke’s national Emergency Relief Fund here.

To qualify for either fund, you must have worked in the food and beverage industry for a minimum of 6 months and an average of 30 hours per week minimum. Every applicant must show proof of such employment, so please have paycheck stubs and/or W2s available. We are unable to make any exceptions. For tips on how to apply and best advance your case, please click here.


If you have questions about the status of your application after you apply, please email unless you have already been assigned a caseworker. If your situation has escalated since you submitted your application, please email The application process is completely anonymous. Only Southern Smoke staff will see your application in its entirety.

The Southern Smoke staff is working around the clock to get aid to as many people possible. We are experiencing a massive influx of applications. Please be patient. If there is any abusive language or tone used with the staff, you will immediately become ineligible for funding.


Please contribute to the Chicago Restaurant Workers Relief Fund to help our important food worker neighbors in this challenging time.

Nearly half a million food service jobs in the Chicago area are at risk due to shutdown restrictions on restaurants, bars and coffee shops. As the COVID-19 crisis continues, these workers in Cook County are facing severe economic hardship.

Your financial support can make a significant difference for these workers.

To date, we’ve received more than $4 million to help these workers but the need is staggering. To encourage contributions, anonymous donors have committed to match donations up to $1 MILLION DOLLARS. To make your dollars go further, these donors will also cover all administrative costs for these matched funds, which means every dollar you give goes directly to a restaurant worker in crisis.

If you would like to contribute and help us reach the goal of an additional TWO MILLION DOLLARS for aid to Chicago restaurant workers, please DONATE HERE.

Southern Smoke is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and your donation is tax-exempt.



We are now hiring those who have been furloughed or are unemployed from the restaurant industry in Cook County to become caseworkers, application screeners, communication specialists, processors, and more! All positions pay $15 per hour and require intense dedication and self-motivation. Please APPLY HERE FOR POTENTIAL EMPLOYMENT WITH SOUTHERN SMOKE  to help save and change the lives of your peers who work or worked in the Chicago restaurant industry.