Industry Creates Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund

We’ve all watched over the past several weeks as restaurant after restaurant has been forced to make the hard decision to cease even take out or delivery options, and watched hotel parking lots sit empty across Michigan’s Great Southwest. Now, that industry is stepping up through creation of an employee relief fund announced today.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation (MRLAEF) has announced today the creation of The Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund. The fund is designed to assist employees of Michigan’s restaurant and lodging industries who are in need of support due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justin Winslow, President & CEO of the MRLA, says, “The hospitality industry has been upended by the pandemic with more than half of the 600,000 hospitality workers in Michigan expected to temporarily lose their jobs,” and adds, “The professionals who dedicate themselves each day to improving ours through excellent service and world-class hospitality don’t deserve this outcome. We are all in this fight together and have committed to match dollar for dollar the first $100,000 in contributions made to the Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund.”

The MRLAEF is a 501c3 non-profit organization capable of accepting personal and corporate contributions. Those interested in supporting the displaced workers of the hospitality may do so online at the link below or by sending a check to the “MRLAEF” with “Michigan Hospitality Employee Relief Fund” written in the memo line to 225 W. Washtenaw, Lansing, MI 48933. Here’s the direct online link:

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Amanda Smith, Executive Director of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation, says, “The mission of the MRLAEF is to educate and support our workforce and there has never been a more acute need for such support,” adding, “We have dedicated our team to supporting them through this challenging time.”

Grants in the amount of $500 will be awarded to approved applicants until resources are fully depleted. Applicants must demonstrate proof of employment in the hospitality industry on March 10th when Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Michigan, as well as proof of furlough or job loss in the wake of that date.

All hospitality employees in Michigan are eligible to apply for funds from The Michigan Hospitality Employee Relief Fund. Applications are available online at the link above. Restaurant employees also can apply for financial assistance from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Relief Fund at this link:

Smith says, “On behalf of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation and The Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund, we would like to thank our founding donors.” Those donors include The Musser Family, Great Lakes Wine & Spirits, KSL Capital Partners + Grand Hotel, Imperial Beverage, Republic National Distributing Company and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

The mission of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation (MRLAEF) is to provide invaluable resources and training to Michigan’s hospitality industry which employs nearly 600,000 people and creates $40 billion in annual revenue. The MRLAEF also prepares high school students for the challenges of a career in restaurants and foodservice through ProStart, a nationwide, two-year high school program that unites the classroom and the industry. ProStart students learn vital kitchen skills, including food safety and knife cuts, and important management lessons, such as menu development and marketing. For more information, visit

Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) is the recognized leader of Michigan’s hospitality industry, providing essential services to the foodservice and lodging community. Founded in 1921 as the Michigan Restaurant Association and now known as the MRLA, the Association represents over 5,000 Michigan foodservice and lodging establishments. The industry plays an integral role in Michigan’s economy, employing more than 595,000 people and creating nearly $40 billion in annual sales. For more information, visit and