Baltimore Restaurateur Has Raised Nearly $500,000 for Competitors Struggling Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

“Let's do the right thing, and ensure we are able to enjoy a delicious meal and cold beer together when things return to normal.”

It would have been easy for Baltimore restaurateur John Minadakis to sit by and watch as his competitors were shuttered by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the co-owner of Jimmy's Famous Seafood chose to help them.

"I guess I could have just sat back and said, 'You know, I'll just wait for all my competitors to go out of business … (and) when things get back to normal, I'll be the only one left,'" Minadakis told Today. "But, you know, we had a moral obligation at the end of the day, and we're all in this together."

By January 18, Minadakis had had enough of watching downtown Baltimore's restaurants and bars struggle. Inspired by the success of The Barstool Fund, Minadakis created a GoFundMe page. In just three days, he had raised more than double his initial goal of $100,000.

Today, with help from former Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover, the effort is an official nonprofit organization known as the "Famous Fund." So far, the fund has helped more than 30 restaurants and bars in downtown Baltimore and, according to Today, increased its goal to $500,000. At the time of publishing, the fund had raised more than $460,000.

"The most beautiful part of this town is its ability to rise up and come together when facing adversity," the fund's website reads. "Let's do the right thing, and ensure we are able to enjoy a delicious meal and cold beer together when things return to normal."

Restaurants at risk of failing simply apply to the Famous Fund. Chosen restaurants can be awarded as much as $15,000.

When Jasmine Norton, the owner of The Urban Oyster, received a $15,000 check from the fund, she told Today that took what she needed to keep cooking and then paid the rest forward, by putting it right back into the nonprofit.

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"Small businesses, especially restaurants, are the pulse of Baltimore," Norton told Today. "We hire the locals. We give them opportunities. We pour into the community that we live in. We are truly invested and connected with the city that we operate in. And I think that is why the Famous Fund is such a big deal.

"There's other small businesses trying to help another. I saw that, and I understand that, and that's why, when we received our funding, I poured right back into that fund, because I want to see another restaurant come up and survive in this," she continued. "That's the spirit of Baltimore."

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