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Local restaurant launches fundraiser to help employees in crisis

Bernadette Faasen is a local resident and business owner that’s helping to bring local restaurants together to help support restaurant employees across St. Louis County.

A resident of Wildwood, Faasen is also the owner of Cobalt Smoke & Sea in Creve Coeur and the former owner of Woodsmoke BBQ in Ellisville.

In light of the social distancing measures that have limited restaurants to service customers via curbside, takeout and delivery options only, the employees at Cobalt Smoke & Sea had an idea.

They launched a community give-back campaign called #314togetherSTL to help puts finds directly into the pockets of restaurant employees in need. T-shirts can be purchased for $20 each at 314togetherSTL.myshopify.com. Shirts can be picked up at Cobalt Smoke & Sea via curbside pick-up or shipped for an additional fee. Faasen partnered with Casual Tees, a screen printer in Ellisville, to make the shirts a reality.

“We were going to do it just for our employees, but then they asked if other restaurants could join in,” Faasen said. “I said, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.’”

The official #314togetherSTL T-shirt [Source: 314togetherstl.myshopify.com]

The funds from the T-shirt purchases go directly to employees in need of funds due to reduced hours or temporary unemployment. The goal is for the funds to help employees with expenses like groceries, prescriptions, and other costs.

“I communicate with my employees on a regular basis to see how they’re doing and find out what their needs are,” Faasen told West Newsmagazine. “We have a lot of great employees. They’re very loyal, and also very honest. Some have said ‘No thank you, we’re doing okay right now.’ It’s not being taken advantage of.”

Other restaurants are welcome to participate in the program. In fact, according to Faasen, multiple restaurants across the St. Louis County area have already reached out about selling the shirts. However, each participating restaurant or entity must adhere to the promise that the funds from the sales will go toward employee needs.

“If a restaurant wants to sell the shirts, that money has to go directly to the employees,” Faasen said.

Faasen also collaborated with Tru Candle Studio, a St. Louis-based luxury fragrance company that specializes in hand-poured soy candles, to create a special Cobalt Smoke & Sea candle that’s also being sold on the official #314togetherSTL website.

No specific end-date for the campaign has been set, and according to Faassen, the plan is to continue on as long as there is a need in the community.

Although the fundraiser is about a week old, over 3,000 T-shirts have already been purchased.

“It’s been non-stop,” Faasen said. “It’s consumed me … We know it’s helped a lot of people so far.”

According to Faasen, there was never a doubt that the local campaign would take off.

“I knew when I put out that product, there was going to be a huge response of people wanting to give back and help their community,” Faasen said. “That’s just how we are in St. Louis.”

Faasen recently launched a new fundraiser to provide meals for frontline heroes. Click here to view to GoFundMe page.
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