One of the Brick City’s most prominent companies is teaming up with a non-profit and a local restaurant owner to give a boost to the hospitality industry as it struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Audible, who relocated to Newark in 2007 and is the world’s largest producer of spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks, has pledged $1 million towards launching Newark Working Kitchens. The organization will directly provide meals for individuals in need and coordinate with locals restaurants as they reopen and help workers earn steady paychecks.
The company will be redirecting their existing Lunch Out Wednesday operation and are collaborating on the project with non-profit World Central Kitchen, which is run by restauranteur José Andrés. Newark Working Kitchens will offer a free, daily food delivery service for Newark residents at the clip of 100,000 meals per day, paying participating restaurants $10 for each meal they provide under the program.
Global restaurateur Chef Marcus Samuelsson, who owns Marcus B&P on Halsey Street, is providing the initial production and food distribution site for World Central Kitchen’s Newark operations. Audible says they want this moment to serve as a call to action for like-minded companies to do their part in supporting the neediest people in their communities.
“We’re proud to work with World Central Kitchen and Marcus Samuelsson to make a difference together for our neighbors in a city hit harder than most by this crisis,” said Don Katz, Audible founder and executive chairman. “These direct investments will help sustain the flywheel of the food economy in Newark by supporting restaurants that our employees visit every day.”
Marcus Samuelsson echoed the sentiment, stating that the restaurant group is “proud to be uniting forces with Audible along with other Newark business leaders like L + M Development and Prudential to be able to serve as a major community food distribution center and hub for Newark and beyond.
“By working together, we can harness the full power of each of our abilities to combat food insecurity in our local community during this extraordinary time of need,” Samuelsson said.
World Central Kitchen’s role in the endeavor is to provide logistical support with restaurants that prepare and deliver meals, track food distribution, help identify meal distribution sites, and assist in fundraising for #ChefsForAmerica in Newark through private philanthropy.
Further down the line, Audible will be launching a mentorship program with Newark Venture Partners and Invest Newark to provide restaurant owners free guidance on how best to navigate available federal, state and local funding in response to COVID-19.
The economic impact of eateries is huge; statistics released by Audible following the announcement claim that restaurants are the nation’s second-largest private employer at 15.6 million workers. The industry, which generates annual sales of $889 billion, is projecting job losses of between five and seven million during the next three months, with revenues expected to dip by about $225 billion.