March 23, 2020

Local restaurateurs open fund to assist food and beverage workers

Fund will be managed and administered by Paso del Norte Community Foundation; Workforce Solutions Borderplex will make disbursements to impacted individuals

Local food and beverage workers are among the first to be hurt by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But help is coming thanks to a group of local restaurateurs.

“Restaurants, bars and coffee shops are inherently social places, so guidance from health authorities to limit exposure to crowds and to practice social distancing hit us all hard,” said Maggie Asfahani, who owns Salt + Honey Bakery Café in Five Points. “We were already hurting, but the executive order that restaurants close their dining rooms forced many restaurants, including mine, to temporarily close and lay off the employees who are the backbone of our business.”

Asfahani is leading a group of local service industry volunteers who have established the El Paso Food and Beverage Workers Fund within the Paso del Norte Community Foundation. The fund will support a grant to Workforce Solutions Borderplex to qualifying food and beverage workers in El Paso, Sunland Park and Santa Teresa, New Mexico who have been laid off or are working significantly reduced hours due to a temporary closure as a result of the pandemic.

“The Paso del Norte Community Foundation was established to support the needs of our region,” said Tracy J. Yellen, CEO of the Paso del Norte Community Foundation. “We are grateful to local restaurateurs and Workforce Solutions Borderplex for stepping up in these challenging times to support our workforce.”

“Across the country, the needs are great for employers and employees who have seen severe impacts to their businesses and their livelihoods,” said Leila Melendez, CEO of Workforce Solutions Borderplex. “The generosity and leadership which these restaurateurs have shown typifies the strength, resilience and selflessness of the Borderplex region.”

L&F Distributors is one of the first organizations to have generously donated $10,000 to the El Paso Food and Beverage Fund. 

You can donate by clicking here or mailing a check payable to the Paso del Norte Community Foundation (with a note that it’s for the El Paso Food and Beverage Workers Fund) to Paso del Norte Community Foundation, 221 N. Kansas Street, Suite 1900, El Paso, Texas 79901.

To apply, please submit the following information to legal name, physical address, telephone number, email address and a copy of letter for temporary closure or notice of termination from employment from a restaurant or bar located in El Paso County as of March 18, 2020. Funds will be awarded to qualified applicants by Workforce Solutions Borderplex as funds are available.

About Workforce Solutions Borderplex

Workforce Solutions is the public workforce system in the six-county Borderplex region that assists employers in finding quality employees, and training individuals with the skills necessary to thrive in the workplace. We administer a broad range of programs and services to effectively address local workforce issues. Workforce Solutions establishes partnerships with various stakeholders within the region to improve education, employment, and economic development. Our organization and its initiatives have been recognized and awarded by the Texas Workforce Commission for our innovative approach to assisting employers and job seekers. For more information, visit