Give yourself a pat on the back — you made it through the rollercoaster ride that was 2020! While last year was difficult and full of surprises, a few pockets of hope remained. We’re highlighting feel-good community stories that reminded us to stay hopeful, accepting of others, and uplifted throughout the year. Let’s reminisce, shall we?
Happy Raptor, Knoxville, TN
On June 12th, the newly opened, woman-owned distillery, Happy Raptor, in New Orleans, LA, made a public statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd. Happy Raptor shared their efforts to become a more inclusive brand by offering free bottles of hand sanitizer to anyone in need, including Black Lives Matter protestors, frontline workers, teachers, and firefighters. They also announced their first distilling internship and free event space rental for non profits.
Evolved Body Art, Columbus, OH
Nick W., the owner of Evolved Body Art Studio, a well-known tattoo and piercing parlor in Columbus, Ohio, made the choice to pay it forward by purchasing three thousand dollars worth of groceries for his employees who had been laid off from their jobs due to the Coronavirus.
Happy Grazing, Sacramento, CA
Starting a new business is never easy, and for Tiffanie Eang, owner of Happy Grazing in Sacramento, California, she quickly realized that it was an even bigger challenge than anticipated. After partnering with Yelp Sacramento for a successful Yelp Elite virtual event in November, a very pleased Elite Squad member suggested to her employer that they hire Happy Grazing to deliver grazing boxes to over 30 of their company’s team members over the holidays. Yelp Sacramento’s Community & Marketing Director, Alex L., says warmly, “It’s so great to see a small business I really believe in succeed.” Despite her initial concerns, it’s safe to say that Tiffanie’s charcuterie business has been a grate success thus far.
kō•än, Cary, NC
Last May, Chef Drew Smith of kō•än in Cary, NC, along with Kristen Baughman of Tabletop Media Group, and local journalist Jenn Rice, launched the Triangle’s first community hub. They dubbed it the “ko·mmunity Hub,” a play on the restaurant’s namesake. After seeing the impacts that COVID-19 had on the community’s restaurant scene, and being inspired by the work of Carrboro United, another local food hub, they made a goal “to utilize the local food and beverage industry and its purveyors to help bridge the existing food supply gap within the community.” The initiative allowed community members to pick up groceries, curated artisanal boxes from local farmers, and take-and-heat family meal kits from local chefs and restaurants without leaving their car.
Meals on Wheels, Austin, TX
Two Yelp Elite Squad members in Austin, TX came together to support their community by raising money for their local Meals on Wheels organization. Elites Quyen B. and Lenny D. cooked dumplings and baked macarons to sell alongside a drink from CoCo’s Cafe in exchange for a $25 donation. Their efforts paid off and the duo ended up raising around $1,250 for Meals on Wheels Central Texas.
Medium Rare, Washington, DC
A Parisian-inspired steak and frites restaurant in Washington, DC has committed to feeding anyone in need around the Washington Metropolitan area. Medium Rare has delivered hundreds of free meals to senior citizens, with the help of local volunteer drivers, since March. Additionally, the restaurant’s owner, Mark B., launched the Feed the Fridge Free School Lunch Program, an initiative in collaboration with Food On the Stove, to fight food insecurity among children in the area. Their goal is to install twenty refrigerators in community centers throughout the district.
Feed Our Heroes, Reno, NV
Feed Our Heroes was started by healthcare workers and restaurant owners who joined forces to provide meals for ER staff and first responders in Reno, Nevada. The campaign strives to feed the frontline, help restaurants pay their employees, and support the community. Since they began their efforts last March, Feed Our Heroes has partnered with over 25 different local businesses and has provided over 23,000 meals to frontline workers in their community.
Saddleback BBQ & Mitten Raised, East Lansing, MI
After both losing her beloved dog Zoey and facing the threat of shutting down, owner Katie of Mitten Raised Bakery, sat down for a heartfelt interview with Saddleback BBQ. The video went viral on Saddleback BBQ’s Facebook page in early December, garnering thousands of views and an outpouring of support from the local community. Community members rallied together to donate and to patron Mitten Raised which resulted in a very busy holiday season for Katie and the crew.