Tips collected in virtual jar for Cleveland restaurant workers

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 30, 2020

CLEVELAND — Sitting on the edge of Ohio City and Hinge Town, in the foggy shadow of the city skyline, sits a Cleveland favorite.

Like all other restaurants in the state, Saucy Brew Works is trying to figure out how to makes ends meet with an empty dining room.

"It's kind of mind blowing to see that," said Annie Kosman. "This is not the Saucy I know and love."

On a Saturday night, Kosman is usually behind the bar; serving up drinks and talking to regulars.

"(Generally) Friday or Saturday there could be 200 people here," said Shelby Nicholson. But with all the seats unoccupied, the brewery decided to let their hourly employees go.

It was an effort to give them unemployment benefits.

"It's been hard for a lot of people to, kind of, get through to that," Kosman said about getting benefits from the state. "I still haven't seen anything from unemployment come through yet."

The eatery isn't closed. They are offering carry out for their menu and patrons can get beers to-go. But if people want to come in and get something, the tips they leave for employees may look a little different.

Saucy Brew Works, in partnership with Code Red, started virtual tip jar has 1,500 industry workers already listed online.

"So far, over 3,000 people have visited the site and we've had 2,000 click throughs," said Nicholson.

The tip jar works two ways: people can tip a random employee or patrons can look for their favorite server or bartender on the site.

"Tips are everything," Kosman said. She told News 5 she's used the tips from the virtual tip jar for rent and other essentials.

"Rather than just leave them out to dry, we really want to make sure they have the ability to still receive tips and donations," Nicholson said about the intent of the tip jar.

Kosman said some tips have been random, from friends or from regulars at Saucy Brew Works.

"I'm very lucky to work at a place where our regulars are very good to us," she said. "It's definitely going to be a struggle the longer this goes on so having that support is really important right now."

Bartending at Saucy Brew Works is not Kosman's only job. She also runs a private fitness studio which is also shut down under Gov. Mike DeWine's orders.

Saucy Brew Works and several other restaurants are offering matching programs. Nicholson said the brewery will match the first $5,000 in tips through the site.