StoryBoard checks in with the Old Dominick team for an update on the program that helps hospitality workers
By Mark Fleischer and Shannon Little Briggs
If the pandemic has shown us anything, it has reminded us of how interconnected we all are, how reliant we are on the very industries we serve.
So when the pandemic shutdowns began and the furloughs of hourly employees of local hotels, restaurants, bars and tourist attractions began in full force, Old Dominick Distillery business saw immediate downturns as well. “Much of our business relies on these individuals to share our story and our products with their customers,” said Zoie Wilson, Old Dominick’s Marketing Director. “And we hope these customers in turn become fans of Old Dominick.”
The Old Dominick partners saw the downturn and its effects on workers and recognized the need to give something back, helping those who have helped them. And an idea was quickly hatched by Old Dominick Distillery and members of the Old Dominick Family and Staff: to assemble a partnership with Athens Distributing of Memphis, TricorBraun, and Champion Promotion and to raise spirits in the Memphis community by raising money for the Welcome to Memphis’s COVID-19 Fund.
The Welcome to Memphis Fund, managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, continues to facilitate financial assistance to hourly workers in the local hospitality industry who have been terminated or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The workers include hourly employees of hotels, restaurants, bars, tourist attractions, convention services, and tour operations in the Memphis area.
And so on Friday, April 17th (it continues through May 31st), the Raise Spirits fundraising program was born. The program sets aside $5.00 from every bottle sold at participating Memphis area liquor stores, and Old Dominick has been donating the $5 to the Welcome to Memphis COVID-19 fund.
“We are so grateful to Old Dominick for truly ‘raising spirits’ as well as much-needed funds for our hardworking Memphis hospitality professionals,” said Mary Schmitz, Executive Director at Welcome to Memphis. “The hospitality industry has been especially hard-hit by the economic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this program will go a long way in helping to fill financial gaps for workers until restaurants, bars, hotels and other hospitality venues reopen.”
Said Zoie Wilson: “We want our local hospitality industry to feel support from their hometown brand during a time when they need it the most.”
StoryBoard caught up with Marketing Director Zoie Wilson this week to check in on the program’s progress.
StoryBoard: The program was launched April 17. What’s the response been so far?
Zoie Wilson: The program was launched on the 17th, but we began the process days before. Our Sales Team spent days visiting and reaching out to local Liquor Store representatives sharing program information, delivering posters and banners, t-shirts for the staff, providing them the tools necessary to support our cause. The response we have received from store owners and representatives has been tremendous. Some stores are even donating an additional dollar amount above the $5.00 committed by Old Dominick and partners. Without the support from our local spirits retailers, we wouldn’t have been able to take this fundraising idea to the next level. Memphis helping Memphis!
StoryBoard: How has the program progressed with helping furloughed employees?
Zoie: For every $300 raised through the purchase of these bottles, another individual is helped. With barely over 11 days since the launch date, we have exceeded our expectations and are very excited about the remaining month of May ahead of us.
StoryBoard: Is there anything more Memphians can do to help? I’m sure they won’t have a problem buying more booze for a cause.
Zoie: While we certainly hope Memphians will continue to support this campaign by purchasing more Old Dominick products, they can go straight to the source and donate to the Welcome to Memphis COVID-19 Fund. Old Dominick chose this fund because we want to help our Hospitality Industry professionals during a time when they can’t help us . . . We want our local hospitality industry to feel support from their hometown brand during a time when they need it the most, and we want them to know how grateful we are for our hometown.
Donations may be made directly to the Welcome to Memphis COVID-19 Fund. (the link is here)
The more money that is donated, the more $300 grants that Welcome to Memphis can issue. Welcome to Memphis is still distributing grant funds to furloughed hospitality workers and will continue to do so as long as donations keep coming in!
StoryBoard: What about Old Dominick? How is the distillery doing through this?
Zoie: Our Master Distiller and Senior Vice President, Alex Castle, shared that “Old Dominick, like most everyone, is taking the pandemic one day at a time. Production is back to full speed and we’re filling barrels with whiskey once again. But until we can open our doors to welcome tourists and our local fan base, we want to help our hometown the best we can.”
The full program details are below.
Said Chris Canale, President of Old Dominick Distillery: “These are unspeakably difficult times for all of our friends in the hospitality industry. While no one of us can alleviate all of the hardships being endured in our city, the Raise Spirits program is a creative way that Old Dominick can leverage its business to help our community. I am grateful that we have some ability to help those in need.”
Shannon R. Little Briggs, Public Relations & Social Media, contributed to this story. Shannon can be contacted at shannonrlittle.com
The Raise Spirits fundraising program will begin Friday, April 17th and continue through May 31st. Old Dominick Gin, Memphis Vodka, Honeybell Vodka, Memphis Toddy, and Huling Station Bourbon Whiskey are the applicable spirits for this program. 750mL bottles only. Participating liquor stores listed below; these are subject to change.
About Welcome to Memphis COVID-19 Fund managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis
Welcome to Memphis COVID-19 Fund is disseminating financial assistance to hourly workers in the hospitality industry who have been terminated or furloughed due to COVID-19. Eligible applicants include hourly employees of hotels, restaurants, bars, tourist attractions, convention services, and tour operations in the Memphis area. Applicants will need to provide their name, contact information, employer and employer contact information, proof of work such as a pay stub or W2, a government issued ID, and proof of termination. Recipients will be chosen through a lottery-style system after the application deadline. These funds are managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis (CFGM), who is providing much needed assistance during this critical time: Welcome to Memphis COVID-19 Fund
If you would like to donate to the Welcome to Memphis COVID-19 Fund, please visit this link managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis: http://ow.ly/PaGd50z3Tkt
Welcome to Memphis is a non-profit subsidiary to Memphis Tourism. Welcome to Memphis is dedicated to the training and development of the Memphis area hospitality workforce.
About Old Dominick
Old Dominick is a revitalized whiskey brand based in Memphis, TN. Established in 1866 by Domenico Canale, fifth-generation grandsons Chris and Alex Canale opened the Distillery in the heart of downtown Memphis in May of 2017. In addition to the new release of Old Dominick Gin, Old Dominick has four other products available to purchase: Huling Station Small Batch High-Rye Bourbon, Memphis Toddy- a recipe original to Founder, Domenico Canale- Memphis Vodka, and Honeybell Citrus Vodka. Old Dominick Distillery offers full Distillery tours and tastings, visit olddominick.com for more information. Visit The Bar at Old Dominick Distillery for a one-of-a-kind, craft cocktail made exclusively with spirits distilled by Master Distiller, Alex Castle.
*All tours, tastings, and The Bar activity at the Distillery are suspended in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.