SOBEWFF Launches Industry Relief Fund With $1 Mil Initial Donation


In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic causing temporary restaurant and bar closures throughout the country, Miami’s hospitality industry is getting hit hard forcing many to lay off employees or temporarily cease operations. To alleviate the struggling industry during this tough time, many organizations are stepping up to offer support and most recently, The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One has launched the SOBEWFF & FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality Industry Relief Fund.

Through this fund, which they launched with an initial donation of $1 million, they 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.

The initiative was announced by Lee Brian Schrager, Founder and Director of SOBEWFF, with the tagline “Serving Those Who Have Served Us.”

Katie Lee and Lee Brian Schrager1 (1)Photo Credit: SOBEWFF

“The Festival’s success over the past two decades has been dependent on so many talented chefs, restaurant owners, and bartenders from our local community,” Schrager said. “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 most.”

In addition to the $1 million donation from the Festival, FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management has also donated an additional $500,000. There has been support from Festival Founding Partners, as well, including Bacardi USA, Badia Spice, Luxco, Mast-Jägermeister US, Shaw-Ross International Importers and Voli 305 Vodka.

The grants from this initiative will go straight to the independently operated and owned restaurants and bars that have had to temporarily cease operations, lay off employees, or have faced significant business losses due to the effects of COVID-19, initially supporting the hundreds of restaurants and bars that have participated in the Festival over the past five years.

Aside from offering monetary support, the fund will also grant awardees access to special resources provided by the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, including one-year membership to courses on management training, marketing and finance for free.

For more information, to donate to the fund, or to apply for a grant, please visit