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The Cash Is Pouring In To Aid Windows Families

The Cash Is Pouring In To Aid Windows Families

The foodservice community should be proud. To date, through thousands of fund-raisers across the country, it has collected $1.4 million for the families of foodservice employees who died in the Sept. 11th attack on the World Trade Center.

According to Darlene Dwyer, a spokesman for the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, millions more were pledged on October 11th, the date set aside for restaurants to donate at least 10 percent of their sales to the fund. The $1.4 million reflects only what has been banked to date, she said.

Though some estimate money collected from October 11th could total well over $10 million, Dwyer hesitated to offer a "guesstimate." She did point out, however, that dozens of other fundraisers are in the works and will further contribute to the aid of foodservice families who lost a loved one Sept. 11th.

The money will go to the families of the 76 Windows on the World employees who died that day and "hundreds" of other foodservice employees who were working for catering companies, corporate dining and other foodservice outlets in the building. The actual number of employees lost has still not been determined, she said.

None of the $1.4 million has been distributed yet, said Dwyer, because the committee in charge of the fund is waiting until more of the pledged money arrives. "We want to be fair to the families involved," she explained. "We have their interests at heart." Meanwhile, families have been directed to other funds that were created following the September 11th attacks.

The money earmarked specifically for the Trade Center foodservice workers will be distributed initially on the basis of "emergency family relief," meaning those who are having trouble paying bills such as rent, utilities and the like. Social workers are meeting with families to asses their needs, Dwyer said.

Exactly how the money will be distributed will be determined by a committee, which includes David Emil, the owner of Windows On The World, Waldy Malouf, the chef/co-owner of Beacon Restaurant, and Tom Valenti, chef/owner of Oeust restaurant.

Meanwhile, business appears to be slowly coming back to the downtown area surrounding the World Trade Center. Tracy Nieporent of the Myriad Restaurant Group said in late October that all of Myriad’s restaurants, except for Layla, are open and back on track. "Over the weekend, we were jammed again. Bill and Hillary were at Tribeca Grill and so was Jerry Seinfeld. It’s nice to see people coming back out again."

Nieporent concedes that the New York Restaurant Week promotion, in which diners pay $20.01 for a three-course lunch and $30.01 for a three-course dinner, helped. "The promotion worked. People are coming back to restaurants. I’m hoping they will continue to come."

Hopefully they will. Estimates are that between 30 and 40 N.Y.C. downtown restaurants have closed and some 15,000 restaurant employees have lost jobs. This industry is vital to the overall health of the economy, which explains why President Bush urged Americans recently to dine out.

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