FIU, South Beach Wine & Food Festival Giving Back to Restaurants

FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management is helping to put money into the hands of cooks, servers, dishwashers and all team members at restaurants and bars through a new partnership with the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. The SOBEWFF & FIU Chaplin School Hospitality Industry Relief Fund will provide immediate financial support to independently owned and operated restaurants and bars impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. Many of these family operated establishments have hired FIU student interns and even given graduates their first jobs, so now the Chaplin School is giving back to the community who has supported it for the last 50 years. The effort is a partnership with some other big name leaders in the hospitality industry.

The fund was launched with $1 million, including a founding donation of $500,000 by the Chaplin School, taken from the proceeds given yearly to the school by The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One to support operations and scholarship at the Chaplin School. Founding Partners Bacardi USA, Badia Spices, Luxco, Mast-Jägermeister US, Shaw-Ross International Importers and Voli 305 Vodka also provided financial support.

“We are so appreciative of existing partners like Bacardi and Badia Spices that have already stepped up to support this important effort, and know there are many more out there who are ready to do the same,” says Michael Cheng, dean of the Chaplin School, one of the top 50 hospitality schools in the world. “Our educational mission to cultivate the future leaders of hospitality would not be possible without those current leaders and individuals – from chefs, servers, and hosts, to bartenders, sommeliers and dishwashers – who work so hard day in and day out to support our students, and who feed and serve our community. We are happy to give back to our hospitality heroes in their time of need.”

The Chaplin School and the FIU Foundation are working with SOBEWFF to help the hospitality community and the people who really need it.

Grants of up to $15,000 will be provided to independently owned and operated restaurants and bars that have had to temporarily cease operations, lay off employees, or whose businesses have been severely diminished due to locally mandated closure orders. Financial support will enable those owners to provide continuity of compensation and other benefits to employees who have been furloughed, laid off or whose incomes have been significantly reduced due to the pandemic. Business owners must apply for the grant, but the money is intended to be given directly to employees, up to $500 per person.

“The Festival’s success over the past two decades has been dependent on the support and participation of so many talented chefs, restaurant owners, and bartenders from our local community,” adds Lee Brian Schrager, SOBEWFF. “With the hospitality industry facing unprecedented devastation, it’s our turn to give back to the people in the industry who have been there for us, and we are prepared to come to their aid now, when they need us the most.”

Besides the initial monetary commitment, grant awardees will get access to resources provided by the FIU Chaplin School, such as support to business owners through a complimentary one-year membership to StartUP FIU Food's Entrepreneurs Educational Development (FEED) program, which offers ongoing industry expertise and management training in areas such as marketing and finance. Business owners will have the full use of the Florida Small Business Development Center at FIU. Relief fund participants also will have access to further their education through BacardiTeach, a dynamic learning partnership between Bacardi USA and the Chaplin School. When operations return to normal, recipients can choose to place up to two FIU interns at no cost to the restaurant owner to support their business operations.

To apply for a relief grant or to donate to the fund, please visit or visit the FIU Chaplin School website at

for more information.

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