Your favorite neighborhood bartender does not have to go tip-less during the pandemic.
Virtual tip jars have popped up to help servers, bartenders and wait staff through these diï¬cult times, thanks to the Chicago restaurant community and many star patrons.
One virtual jar, created on GoFundMe, is to benefit Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub, a local hotspot in Streeterville.
Mike Copenhaver created the fundraiser after talking with a group of loyal Lizzie McNeill’s customers. Most of the group gathers for trivia nights on Tuesdays.
“Everyone knows each other, it’s a large group that congregate,” Copenhaver said. “I was nominated to create the campaign, but it was a collective decision. It was just a large group that knew what was in store for what we consider family.”
John Wrenn, the general manager, is grateful for the initiative shown by the pub’s core community. “It’s fortunate enough there are people out there who are looking out (for us),” he said. “It is all done because of our day-to-day customers, our regulars. We’re lucky to be in the location and community that we’re in.”
Lizzie McNeill’s completely shut down March 16, like most other restaurants and bars in the city. Soon after that, virtual tip jars graced GoFundMe, Facebook and websites. Lizzie McNeill’s fundraiser is $200 shy of its $10,000 goal as of April 23.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Copenhaver said. “I didn’t post it on Facebook, maybe texted 10 or 15 people, and it kind of went from there. We set $10,000 as the goal, but didn’t know we’d get there. None of (the staff ) were expecting anything, and to know they were going to have a little help, everyone is really grateful and surprised.”
Other virtual tip jar fundraisers in the area include Second City Bar, Marisol, Theory, Untitled Supper Club, Roka Akor, Stocks & Blondes, 2Twenty2 Tavern and Monk’s Pub.
At Monk’s Pub, a popular spot for lunch and after-work drinks in the Loop, the virtual tip jar has more than $4,000 from 60 donors.
“The staff is grateful,” Melissa Shary said. “Not simply for the cash in their pockets, but more because the response has been so great. We’ve received a bunch of messages checking in on us and telling us they can’t wait until we reopen. It’s nice to know they want to take care of us when we cannot take care of them.”
Everyone is eager to reopen doors to their regulars and day-to-day customers, but Wrenn said they’re going to be as safe as possible in doing so. Until that day, they’re thankful to have a connection with customers, even if it’s not from behind the bar.
“I’m grateful to Mike and the whole core group that frequents Lizzie’s,” Wrenn said. “We’re just really grateful.”