A Virtual Tip Jar for Buffalo’s Hospitality Workers

Visit Buffalo Niagara has partnered with the local hospitality industry to encourage donations, through a virtual tip jar, for employees of service and tourism-related businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Best accessed from your mobile device, the new website ServiceIndustry.tips is a Virtual Tip Jar that facilitates donations for the staff of Buffalo hotels, restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, and other businesses who typically depend on tips to supplement their income. Over 2,200 virtual tips have been sent to nearly 700 of these employees from around Buffalo through the donation program. A registration form for recipients is available on the site.

Each new visit to the website generates a different name of a local hospitality worker who has signed up for donations along with their place of employment. Buffalonians can then make a donation directly to that employee through their Venmo (iOS and Google Play) or Cash App (iOS and Google Play) mobile payment account listed on the website. The Virtual Tip Jar lists a different worker’s name for each website visitor in order to ensure equal distribution of donations to all recipients. Donors and recipients will need a smartphone in order to use the donation site.

The co-creators of the Buffalo page, staff members from Lockhouse Distillery and a local Longhorn Steakhouse, along with VBN staff, review and vet those who apply to be recipients.

“The thought of someone sending an act of kindness is exactly what we need in times like these,” said Carolina Martinez of Lockhouse Distillery, one of the page’s co-creators.

“These employees are the bedrock of Buffalo’s hospitality industry and need our help right now,” Visit Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Patrick Kaler said. “Every time you make your bed, grab a beer from the fridge, cook a meal or prepare a drink, consider leaving a tip for those workers normally engaged in those tasks who are out of a job. Every little bit helps, and this is one more way for the City of Good Neighbors to step up and help their fellow Buffalonians during these challenging times.”

Visit ServiceIndustry.tips to donate or sign up if you’re an affected hospitality employee.