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Virtual Tip Jar: How to help Little Rock food service workers as COVID-19 causes instability

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership started a virtual tip jar as a way to show gratitude, not only through cash and coins, but Venmo and PayPal.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Now that all restaurants in the state of Arkansas have gone to carry-out or delivery, the tips that servers rely on are few and far between. 

But now there's a new way to tip local servers and it's giving restaurants some hope.

It's called a virtual tip jar and it's the new norm across the country. 

Ellen Lampe, Downtown Little Rock Partnership Director of Communications, said this tiny notification through the phone can translate to a bright light for servers all across Little Rock.

"We are just looking for any way we can help local businesses right now," she said. 

To the naked eye, Clinton Ave. may just look like a deserted street with "open" signs untouched. 

Max Ceaser, General Manager of Big Whiskey's, said it's a terrifying time. 

"It's been very slow overall," he said. 

But if you take a glance through a different lens, Lampe said there's a sense of unity like never before.

"It's been shared hundreds of times on social media and we've just been floored by the response," she said. 

After seeing its success in other cities, Lampe said the Downtown Little Rock Partnership decided to start a virtual tip jar. 

"We felt like there was definitely an opportunity there for people to be given the chance to support those restaurants and bars that they really love," she said. 

Community members can now show gratitude not only through cash and coins, but Venmo and PayPal.

This tip jar already overflowing with over 500 servers' names in just four days.

Ceaser said servers across the country right now are going through a hardship.

"They're not collecting any tips right now, their income is gone," he said. 

Ceaser described the past weeks as "gut-wrenching."

"This is a time where hospitality, retail workers, restaurant industry workers aren't going to be able their bills in the way that some people are able to work from home at this time," he said. 

With his team members uncertain of what their next plan will be, Ceaser pleads for the people of Little Rock to spread a little virtual hope. 

"As a community, if we want to see our local businesses be able to open back up and succeed when this is all over with, now is the time to give back to them," he said. 

Any and all servers in Little Rock can sign up here

To support the server/restaurant you'd like, you can go through the list and donate to them individually. 

Lampe said virtual tip jar will keep going as long as needed. 

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