Group Helps Restaurants Struggling During Coronavirus Outbreak
When Travis Clark opened Clark Crew Barbecue, the economy was thriving.
That was just a few months ago, before COVID-19 was making headlines.
“A lot of employees we’ve had to let go. We’ve only been open about 90 days. We were up to about 140 employees. We’ve had to let about 130 of them on furlough now,” he said.
And Clark isn’t alone.
“We’re probably one of the top 10 destination points in Oklahoma and we get people from all of the world. It’s really interesting, but to all of the sudden have all that cut off from you,” said Dee Downer of Kendall’s Restaurant in Norman.
Erik Deloera of San Marcos Mexican Restaurant/Senor Shots said the sales went from "amazing to half right now."
“It just caught everybody off guard,” Clark said. “You go from a huge day one day thinking, 'man, we need more people' to just a screeching halt. It’s a heart-breaker.”
That’s where Oklahoma’s Fat Guy Club comes in.
The Fat Guy Club is an online men’s group where members post pictures of food, booze and, well, other stuff. They also cook for veterans, take nursing home residents out for dinner and hang out together.
Now, they’ve come up with an idea to hold restaurant bingo, encouraging their 5,000 members to buy food from local restaurants to win prizes like T-shirts and gift certificates.
It also reminds folks that many of these restaurants are open for delivery and curbside service.
“These are our brothers. They’re our brothers. We want to help them, do what they can to succeed and at the same time, give our guys something fun to do,” said Terry Owen of the Fat Guy Club.
Clark is glad for it.
“It’s just a fun way to promote them small businesses. There’s going to be a lot of them unfortunately that will not make it through this,” he said.