Portnoy claimed that he has grown tired of the government’s attempts at supporting small businesses during Covid-19. He kicked off his effort by launching a fundraising effort called “The Barstool Fund” where he contributed $500,000 out of his own pocket.
As a result of the pandemic, small businesses such as restaurants and bars, have been forced to shut down. 31,000 people have also contributed to Dave’s effort and as such, a total of $2.6 million has been raised to support them.
The Barstool Sports founder has been vocal in his views against restrictions, with small businesses being forced to close, stating that the government has not given them enough to survive. He announced his fundraising program in a live stream, where he also criticized elected officials in Washington DC for failing to pass relief legislation intended to aid small businesses across the country.
“How do you expect these people to survive,” Portnoy said in a live video Thursday. “How are restaurants going to survive? Nobody in the government seems to care. Or at least no one is acting like they care.”
The government has been attempting to negotiate a new stimulus package which would include a renewed Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses totaling around $285 billion – President Trump is close to signing off on the package. Portnoy knows that his fund will not be able to support every deserving business but believes it can offer some help to those that need it.
He has also recently berated New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio for ceasing indoor dining at restaurants in New York, where his restaurant is now located. These issues are personal for Portnoy as he envisions more closures for many small businesses that he would like to aid. He himself has experienced the challenges which small businesses face, let alone during a pandemic, with Barstool once being a very small business themselves.
Unlike other short-lived funds, Portnoy wants the relief to get paid monthly until pandemic restrictions are lifted.
“Once we pick you, we cut you the check to get you through January,” he explained. “Each month, we will continue to cut you a check for how much you need to stay in business until this thing is over.”
Kerry Counard, owner of Abbey Bar in Wisconsin – one of the small businesses Dave has given funds to, has said that “It was certainly humbling and a little embarrassing.” He expressed empathy for the “thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of small businesses” still struggling with lockdowns and Covid-19 safety protocols.
“When we opened as take out only, being a neighborhood grill, we make money when people come in and sit down and have a drink and stick around,” Counard said. “…We got most of our business from college, [which] went almost completely virtual this fall. We lost almost all that business.”
The relief fund clearly has meant a lot to the small business owners who have received financial support, with Counard saying he had to stop and pull over when he first heard the news, due to it being so overwhelming. Operating for 45 years, Abbey Bar has been utilizing cash donations from loyal customers by turning them into gift cards for frontline workers such as nurses and teachers. Counard believes that this was one of the primary reasons as to why Barstool chose his restaurant to be given support from The Barstool Fund.
As part of the program, Abbey Bar’s logo has featured on merchandise, such as on t-shirts and hats, and Counard said that it was “humbling” to see so many people purchase the items from all over the country, which now means he can pay his employees and ensure his restaurant is kept afloat.
“It’s like an extra Christmas gift,” Counard said. “It’s certainly going to help us bridge through the pandemic.”
Portnoy has also helped restaurants Borelli’s and Mamma Mia 44 SW with his fund, both of which are located in New York, and ones he has visited before as part of his “Barstool Pizza Review” series.
Connie R. Mama, owner of Mama Mia 44 SW, told Portnoy during a phone call on Tuesday, which was also posted to Twitter, that she was “so moved” by the effort and appeared to get choked up.
“My mom just passed in January, and I told her before she died, ‘Mom, don’t worry. I’m going to take care of the business,'” Mama said.
Mama also said that her business has faced many challenges recently, including when a burglar broke into Mamma Mia’s last week, stealing the 50-year-old restaurant’s liquor. As well as this, she also had to spend $12,000 on outdoor dining equipment since New York had stopped indoor dining.