Barstool Sports raises millions of dollars to help struggling small businesses: ‘Someone had to do it’

NEW YORK CITY- Some people (including the federal government) talk the talk. Others walk the walk. Under the latter category is Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, who has helped to raise over $6 million for small businesses. So while Congress ties up much-needed assistance to American businesses while pledging over $1 trillion to mostly ridiculous causes, Portnoy is actually doing something.

Portnoy grew tired of seeing the inaction taking place in Washington, DC., where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tied up the vital aid for people and small businesses impacted by COVID-19 over clearly and admittedly partisan reasons.

So Portnoy announced the effort with the nonprofit 30 Day Fund for small businesses and contributed $500,000 of his own money toward the fund, according to Fox Business.

“It was certainly humbling and a little embarrassing,” said Kerry Counard, who owns the Abbey Bar in Wisconsin.

That business was chosen as one of the initial six restaurants designated to receive funds. Counard said that he felt sorry of the “thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of small businesses” which were still struggling amid government-imposed lockdowns.

Counard told Fox Business that when he received the news that he had received the assistance, he had to pull over while he was driving due to being overwhelmed by the news.

The bar, which has been in business for 45 years had been taking cash donations made from grateful customers into gift cards for their frontline workers, such as nurses and teachers. Counard believes that is one reason Portnoy chose his restaurant to participate in and receive funds from the Barstool Fund.

“When we opened as take out only, being a neighborhood grill, we make money when people come in and sit down and have a drink and stick around,” Counard said.

“We got most of our business from college [which] went almost completely virtual this fall. We lost almost all that business.”

Counard said that it was “humbling” to see the merchandise featuring his restaurant’s logo on the website and said that people from all over the country have been purchasing hats and t-shirts. The funds realized will help pay his employees and keep his restaurant viable, he said.

“It’s like an extra Christmas gift,” he said. “It’s certainly going to help us bridge through the pandemic.”

The fund, which was introduced by Portnoy on Dec. 17 in a tweet said businesses could submit stories to [email protected] to be considered for the fund. The only catch is businesses have had to be continuing to pay their employees.

Barstool has been sharing video submissions from restaurant owners who asked to be considered as part of the fundraising effort on social media.

Likewise, Portnoy has been also sharing reaction videos from restaurant owners when they get notified they have been chosen to participate in The Barstool Fund. Several of the owners have been on the verge of tears after they heard from Portnoy.

Two of the restaurants chosen to receive funding have previously been visited by Portnoy, who reviews pizza shops as part of his “Barstool Pizza Review” series.

One of the owners, Connie R. Mama who owns Mama Mia in New York City appeared to get choked up when she received a call from Portnoy last week. She posted to twitter that she was “so moved” by the effort.

“My mom just passed in January, and I told her before she died, ‘Mom, don’t worry. I’m going to take care of the business,’” Mama said.

In addition to dealing with the shutdowns imposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mama also had a burglary to deal with, where the restaurant’s liquor supply was stolen.

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She also said that she spent $12,000 on outdoor dining equipment to accommodate customers during New York City winters. The city recently banned indoor dining…again.

On the video, Portnoy told Mama that it is important for people to hear stories like hers, “because that’s what’s creating more people that donate” so that Barstool can “help more people and save more small businesses struggling amid the pandemic.”

In another video posted on Dec. 17 the owner of Borelli’s, another pizza shop thanked Portnoy for starting the fund and also was brought to tears when he found his business would be receiving funds from The Barstool Fund.

“You know what it means to us,” Frank Borelli said. “This started in April. We had our doors close. We made it through December. We built an outdoor patio. People were coming in. We were breaking even during the summer. I cut my staff. They’re all being paid.”

“I said we’ll make it though Christmas. January through March, I was planning on closing. I didn’t say anything to my staff. This is going to help so much—you don’t know. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

According to TMZ, Portnoy understands that he won’t be able to help every deserving business, however he recognizes that something is better than nothing.

Yet another restaurant that Portnoy is helping is New York’s Trattoria L’incontro, which recently made headlines after its customers withstood freezing weather to eat outside.

Portnoy realizes that as currently stands, people are losing their businesses; he doesn’t believe the United States should let these businesses get totally run into the ground by COVID-19 with politics in Washington, DC standing in the way between survival and going under.

Currently, the $6.5 million raised is supporting 22 businesses, including two in the state of Michigan.

Kudos to Dave Portnoy and Barstool Sports. More proof that government isn’t the be all, end all. Sometimes the private sector just gets stuff done. 

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Author: Pat Droney

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