Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend
Pandemic relief: Discovery+ series helps struggling restaurants
There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic hit the food industry hard, with $240 billion in sales and nearly 2.5 million jobs lost in 2020. While it may be a long climb to recovery, diners are eager to return, and that’s good news for restaurateurs. In the meantime, how do you ride out a crisis in an industry with already low profit margins?
Enter Todd Graves, the founder and CEO of fast-food chain Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. A former participant in Fox’s “Secret Millionaire,” Graves leads a new reality series that began streaming last week on discovery+. Two new episodes of it are landing this Thursday, April 22.
“Restaurant Recovery” follows Graves as he rolls up his sleeves and travels across the country to help bring eateries back from the brink. Throughout the series, he’ll offer $2 million in COVID-19 relief to 20 restaurants (that’s $100,000 each) and he’ll also bring in a few famous friends to lend a hand along the way.
Snoop Dogg was the special guest in the premiere episode, and this week rapper/actor/entrepreneur Nelly will be on hand to show love to his hometown of St. Louis and to Crown Candy Kitchen. The 107-year-old shop and diner survived the Spanish flu in 1918, but it has struggled to keep the lights on during the most recent pandemic. Hopefully, a renovation (courtesy of Graves and his team) and an appearance by a Grammy-winning performer (Nelly) will boost sales and help the establishment regain a solid footing.
In the second episode premiering Thursday, Graves heads to Denver to meet the owners of My Brother’s Bar, a family-owned place that has been in continuous operation since 1873. It had successfully pivoted to outdoor dining to keep itself profitable during the pandemic, but Graves offers some assistance ahead of the colder winter months when customers might not want to have drinks outside in 45-degree weather.
“Restaurant Recovery” began filming last August, when guidelines were first instituted to allow the safe resumption of filming and dining, and production continued through the rest of the year. Exclusively available on discovery+, two new episodes of the show will be added to the streamer every Thursday this month.