Updated: Webinars and COVID News for Chefs and Restaurateurs

Editor's Note: Plate is making coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find more articles here.

It’s been a long and draining journey for restaurants these past three months as COVID-19 continues to devastate the industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the food and beverage industry suffered more layoffs than any other industry in the month April, totaling 5.5 million, or about 27 percent of total job losses. While some restaurants have closed down completely, others are focusing on delivery and takeout, or have pivoted to retail concepts. And depending on their state, some chefs are starting to consider reopening. As you navigate your next step, we’ll keep updating our list of news, petitions, webinars and financial aid resources. Email us at [email protected] and tell us how you plan to handle the next phase of your business.


The Illinois Restaurant Association and the University of Illinois Extension, in conjunction wtih the U of I College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is hosting free webinars for their Scaling Up program. The webinars feature food service industry professionals, restaurant owners, university hospitality management and a series of panelists. 


May 28 at 10AM CST: This webinar will focus on financial considerations, including strategies for ordering, preparing cost-effective menus and operating in a COVID-aware environment Register here 

June 4 at 10AM CST: This webinar will focus on compliance resources and disinifectent practices to allow for safe physical enviroments for patrons and staff, and will cover approaches for enhancing the customer experience while adhering to new operational guidelines. Register here

The Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) has an ongoing series of live town hall interviews with chefs and food service professionals that can all be accessed here. Past town hall interviews have featured chefs José Andrés, Nina Compton, Rosa Garcia, Sam KassAndrew Zimmern and Naomi Pomeroy and restaurateur Kevin Boehm. Click here for more updates, upcoming town halls and information on how the coalition is continuing the serve as a voice for independent restaurants.  

The National Restaurant Association also has a wealth of information and resources on its site, including social distancing guidelines, food safety measures and a new ServSafe reopening guideline training video available in English and Spanish. Their education and engagement resource called Restaurants Act aggregates important information and updates on all things COVID-19, including an interactive map of all 50 states and Puerto Rico, filled with information, laws and news. You can also take part in the NRA's restaurant relief efforts every Tuesday, when a collective call is made to congress asking to increase aid to the industry. Download readymade posts and messages in the #TakeActionTuesday toolkit here, or text RECOVERY to 52886.

The NRA is also hosting an ongoing series of webinars. Click here to stay on top of upcoming and past webinars, or register below. Past webinar topics have included the future of restaurant menus, how to deal with business interruption insurance claims and more, available on demand.

The James Beard Foundation has also ramped up its webinars aimed at providing insight for restaurateurs and hospitality workers. See below for this week's lineup, and click here to access past recordings on topics like understanding PPP loans, food producers in the pandemic and more. For more info on initiatives, resources for reopening your restaurant, recent survey results on what it will take to reopen, chef advocacy toolkits, information on sobriety and metal health and more, click here. ​​

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association is also hosting regular webinars. Go here to find out about upcoming webinars, watch past ones on topics like Restaurants Rising: Innovation in Fast Casual Concepts, or see below for webinars this week.

  • May 19 at 5PM PST: Small Business Town Hall with Senator Scott Weiner and Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. Register here.

General Information 

Here are some recent articles to help you with your business:

Chefs Forge a New Way to Sell Their Food By Partnering with Grocery Stores

Is Your Eco-Friendly Takeout Packaging Really Sustainable?

Chefs File Lawsuits as Insurance Companies Reject COVID Claims

The LEE Initiative Expands to Support Restaurant Workers in 19 Community Kitchens Across the Country

How to Close Your Restaurant

Restaurants Pivot to Feed Hospital Workers to Give Back and Stay in Business

Visa Holders Are Caught in the Middle Amid Mass Restaurant Lay-offs

Empleados con Visas Afectados por Despidos Masivos de Restaurantes

What the American Families First Act Means for Restaurant Workers 

These Chefs are Transforming their Restaurants into General Stores

Industry Facebook groups

Here are few pages we are following right now:

Hospitality Industry Alliance | COVID-19

Hospitality Strong


Industry United

Independent Restaurant Coalition

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association

Service Workers United for Power

Another helpful resource for industry workers who are struggling with addiction issues and looking for community right now is Ben’s Friends, a peer support group with outposts across the country. The group has started hosting daily virtual meetings on Zoom, where members of the food and beverage industry can find a safe, anonymous space to discuss their mental health and find solidarity.


We will continue to update this resource list.  Email us at [email protected] or let us know in the comments about other resources, forums or social media groups you are relying on right now.