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Relief program for restaurant workers launches Tuesday at Big Star; donations welcome

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 3/23/2020 By Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune
a train is parked on the side of a building: An empty restaurant patio and parked food trucks at Big Star in Wicker Park on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS An empty restaurant patio and parked food trucks at Big Star in Wicker Park on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Furloughed restaurant workers can receive pre-packaged meals and groceries through a program launching Tuesday at Big Star.

In concert with Louisville chef Edward Lee’s LEE (Let’s Empower Employment) Initiative and Maker’s Mark, the One Off Hospitality Group is turning its Big Star restaurant (1531 N. Damen Ave.) into an ongoing headquarters for restaurant-workers relief, preparing hundreds of to-go dinners and groceries available to restaurant employees furloughed as a result of the coronavirus response.

From 5-7 p.m. daily, workers will be able to pick up these packages on a first-come, first-served basis. One package (dinner plus groceries) per person. Proper ID and proof of recent restaurant employment (a paystub will suffice) will be required. There will be 250 packages offered each day.

Strict social-distancing rules will be in place for those in line; cones will be place to mark standing spaces. Staffers will hand out packages; no one will be permitted inside the building.

Monetary donations are being accepted at leeinitiative.org; donations of goods and products can be made via Amazon, directed to Big Star Wicker Park, 1531 N. Damen Ave., Chicago 60622. In-person donation cannot be accepted, in keeping with shelter-in-place restrictions.

The Restaurant Workers Relief program will be offered every day throughout the quarantine period, or for as long as supplies last.

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