INDIANAPOLIS — Two central Indiana restaurants got a special video call last week from the founder of Barstool Sports.
David Portnoy FaceTime called the Rathskeller downtown and the owners of Special Hot Dogs & More in Columbus.
The surprise call is part of a nationwide fundraiser called “Barstool Fund” that is focused on helping small businesses survive the pandemic.
To qualify, businesses had to apply and explain why they needed the money.
The fundraiser started in mid-December and has raised more than $21 million with more than 170,000 supporters. With that money, they have helped 102 businesses as of Saturday.
Special Hot Dogs & More owners Randy and Robin Lapidus received the call on Tuesday. They have owned the restaurant for about three years.
They hire employees with mental and intellectual disabilities to help prepare them for the workforce.
They said the pandemic has made it difficult for them, with Randy calling it a “roller coaster” of a year.
“What will happen is we may have a couple of weeks where people’s confidence is up and we are busy, but then it’s almost like the bottom drops out again. We’ve had that bank account down to where it was almost empty,” he said.
Now, they can have a weight off their shoulders with the Barstool Fund paying their rent.
“To be one of the select few businesses that he has gone ahead and picked to support…there is no better feeling in the world. There really isn’t,” Randy said.
The Rathskeller downtown also received a call later that week. They will be using their funds to pay their employees—many who have been there for more than a decade.
“We didn’t know if we were going to get selected for this. So, it really was just a one in a million shot,” said Maddie Yoder, special event coordinator at The Rathskeller.
Yoder said dozens of people helped nominate them, and she also created a video that she sent in.
In the video, she said, "for the first time in 25 years, we are facing the threat of closing once again," after nearly closing in 1995 before current owner Dan McMichael bought the business.
Once a business is selected, the Barstool Fund will write a check to help the business get through the month of January.
The business can keep receiving checks as long as they need help.
"Once you're in our program, we will pay whatever you need, the necessities you need, the money you need, to get through this thing and give you a fair chance to run your business," Portnoy said in the video.
To donate to the Barstool Fund, click here.