Chicago is home to the renowned, Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen. They are a dinning legend, and they have attracted their fair share of customers from locals to politicians and celebrities. Famous for their delicious, corned beef sandwiches, potato pancakes and blintzes, they have been doing what they love for almost 80 years. 

“Many of our customers have expressed the desire to share the comfort of Manny’s with those experiencing hardship and also financially support our 45 employees. It is a heart-warming reminder of the generosity that exists in times like these.” said Danny Raskin, fourth generation of the Manny’s founding family. 

Manny's Team

Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen Team 

“To that end, we’ve set-up this fund in an effort to support our community and employees by providing meals to families in need and those on the front lines. This will keep employees working, while helping those in need.” 

As a result of customer support, Manny’s has been able to keep the large majority of their staff on board, and Danny said that “It’s important to be in front of people and keep reminding them that we’re here.”  

In December 2020, Manny’s inaugurated their eight-week sandwich series, joining forces with eight local places: J.P. Graziano Al’sTao ChicagoThe Weiner’s CircleThe Fat Shallot Antique Taco Roots Handmade Pizza and Smoque BBQ

Tao Chicago

Tao Chicago, Bao Buns 

Teaming up in this way, Manny’s and their counterparts are a great example of a trend that we’re seeing emerge in the hospitality and gastronomy sector: businesses helping other businesses and their local communities to survive and thrive. 

When asked about the heart behind the initiative Danny said “I was trying to look to get other people in the industry involved in working together. We’re all really struggling, and I thought we could do cross branding to help the businesses and get customers excited.” 

Roots Handmade Pizza

Roots Handmade Pizza

“We’re all trying to find out what’s working — sharing ideas with each other, and give some tips,” Danny says. “Whenever you hear of a restaurant closing, we all feel bad about it.” 

Barry Sorkin, a co-founder of Smoque, who will be adding their offering to the sandwich series later in January, said that “I really like the fact that you can get some of the city’s best food in incredibly informal environments. I think that’s unique.” They wanted to get on board with the series because “we’re such fans of Manny’s and what they represent.” Smoque, who turned 14 last month, has been consistently ranked among the country’s best BBQ joints, won many awards, and garnered a lot of media interest and critical praise over the years. The thanked their customers directly stating, “Our team have never felt more grateful and more blessed that, in spite of all that’s working against restaurants right now, our customers have continued to support us and enabled us to keep doing what we do and what we love; and that we have been able to keep our incredible staff working throughout this ordeal.” 

Roots Handmade Pizza said that they “were actually busier through the pandemic than we’ve ever been in the history of our company.” Indeed, joining the sandwich series is just another decision that they’ve made as they’ve diversified their offering over the past year. They also provided meals to feed out-of-work employees and families in need during the pandemic.  

Roots Handmade Pizza, Mozarella Sticks

Roots Handmade Pizza, Mozzarella Sticks 

“I think the charity side of things gave us some recognition or some visibility to people that may not have known our group,” said restaurant owner Greg Mohr. “When we did start reopening... People... wanted to come and have a meal and say thanks for what we had done throughout the pandemic.”  

The Wiener’s Circle, is quite possibly the most famous hot dog stand in Chicago. They’re known for taking a special approach to hospitality by yelling insults and jokes at customers. Adapting their brand to social distancing, they have taken to FaceTime ordering and are also donating money to Black People Eat’s fund for Black-owned restaurants

The Fat Shallot, who served up their sandwich offering last week, have raised over $12,000, beating their original goal of $5,000. Their goal is to “help support our small family-owned restaurant and the nurses, doctors and first responders that are risking their lives to save ours” during the pandemic.   

The Fat Shallot

The Fat Shallot, Chicago

All of these businesses embody positivity and have kept their community at the center of their operations. The result is very clear. Customers are supporting businesses that they feel were supportive to their employees and local communities during the upheaval that was 2020. In fact, 65% of customers are more likely to trust a business that supported their community, staff and other frontline workers. 

What are the takeaways from these stories of positivity and community support? 

  • Support your local community and they will support you. Just giving your customers the opportunity to donate to a good cause during this time, will add increase their trust in your business and strengthen their relationship with you. 

  • Look out for collaboration opportunities with other restaurants, hotels and bars in your area.  

  • Keep your communication consistent, open and transparent with your customer base. Keeping your customers up to date with what’s going on with your place, and how they can help will directly lead to them supporting you.   

TWISPER is on a mission to bring fairness and positivity back to the hospitality industry. During this unprecedented time, we hope to cast light on the grit, resilience and determination that are an inherent part of the industry. We know that these qualities will lead to recovery and restoration as we look to the future. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest industry news and TWISPER announcements.