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Nashville Chefs, Restaurant Owners Launch ‘Tennessee Action for Hospitality’ To Help Workers

A letter to Governor Lee from a group of united Nashville chefs, restaurant owners, and hospitality workers

This morning, many may have gotten alerts about a new Instagram follower: @action_for_hospitality. With so much going on with Nashville’s current COVID-19 lockdown precautions (among everything else), it was easy to not take much notice. But by yesterday afternoon, as a barrage of local chefs, owners, and industry workers took to posting on social media following a Nashville Scene post by Chris Chamberlain, it made it clear that this account was worth following back.

Here’s what we know about Tennessee Action for Hospitality.


Chefs, restaurant owners and hospitality workers of Tennessee (and their supporters)


A coalition that aims to:

  • Connect Tennessee hospitality workers for protection, relief and welfare
  • Help them present a united front to local, state and federal government


Industry professionals needed to find a way to let legislators know how important the hospitality industry is — and how much it’s hurting. According to Chamberlain’s post, the concept was sparked by a late-night text from a Nashville chef on Monday to 20-plus friends. It caught fire, and by Wednesday, they had specifics.

The group is asking the government to:

  • Offer immediate emergency unemployment benefits for affected workers (hourly and salaried)
  • Ensure 75% of unemployment pay
  • Eliminate the payroll tax
  • Offer rent and loan abatement for workers and restaurants impacted
  • Require insurance companies to cover loss of revenue
  • Abate sales tax and LBD tax payments
  • Provide a cash stimulus package
  • Loosen restrictions on alcohol sales


Nowhere physical, obviously. Find them online, here:


The coalition launched online Wednesday, March 18. The state legislature is aiming to approve a budget by this weekend, so timing is critical.

What You Can Do

  1. Follow Tennessee Action for Hospitality
  2. Contact the Governor on their behalf using this form (It takes less than 2 minutes.)
  3. Keep ordering carryout and delivery
  4. Buy their merchandise and gift cards online
  5. Let them know you’re thinking about them

As Chamberlain said, #CarryOutAndCarryOn.

Letter from the Tennessee Action for Hospitality Website

Our letter to Governor Lee

March 18, 2020

Governor Lee,

We are a group of independent restaurant owners, hourly workers and chefs who work hard daily to provide Tennessee one of the most dynamic hospitality industries in the world - one that is attracting global attention. We contribute to the well-being of our community, support our thriving economy and, in general, exhibit a dedicated and unparalleled commitment to our various cities that goes above and beyond “cash-flow” and “hospitality”. We are citizens who work hard to build, connect and provide. Over the last several weeks, despite major natural disasters in Nashville and the rapidly changing face of a pandemic that none of us could have prepared for, we have stood strong to collectively serve our community through it all, with no asks and no needs. We are grateful for the thousands of guests and neighbors who have come out to support us in our efforts, either through aide or patronage. There is truly no state greater than Tennessee when it comes to community commitments and we are so proud to be amongst our fellow dedicated citizens.

While we are thankful and proud, it is now time to make hard decisions - decisions we are willing to make to keep our communities safe. As owners, it is time for us to step up to make the hard decision to put the welfare and health of our customers and workers first. This will come at a great and devastating financial cost to us as hourly workers, tipped workers, and small business owners - generally, to us as an industry at large.

We are most concerned about our workforce, whose livelihoods and immediate welfare are at risk.

We can not do this without help. Our industry will not survive without immediate and definitive assistance and bold moves from our elected officials.

Governor, in order to do what we believe is right - moving toward full closure for our businesses - we are being put in a deeply vulnerable state and it is paramount that we communicate our needs if we are to survive this catastrophic time.

This call to action comes with great urgency and trust in the process.

We know you will meet us here and we aim to communicate clearly what is needed:

  • Immediate emergency unemployment benefits for all hourly and salaried workers furloughed during this crisis. We need a direct lifeline for our workers with no waiting period.
  • Ensure 75% pay for unemployment.
  • Eliminate payroll tax immediately.
  • Support in our call for rent and loan abatement for workers and restaurants impacted.
  • Requiring insurance companies to cover loss of revenue.
  • Abating sales tax and LBD tax payments.
  • A cash stimulus package.
  • Loosen restrictions on alcohol sales.

This is a vital moment for our state and industry workers, Governor. We ask that you help us in protecting our workers and our chefs and our industry at large. The need is immediate and the action required should be swift. As our elected official, we beseech you to move quickly alongside us to lessen the damages we foresee as imminent. We trust that you will help us make these bold moves for those in need in their immediate time of need, before it is too late to rectify.


The chefs, restaurant owners & workers of Tennessee

TN Action for Hospitality

Chefs and Restaurant Owners Mobilize as “Tennessee Action for Hospitality [SCENE]