The coronavirus pandemic has hit Maine's working population hard. So many of our friends and neighbors who work in kitchens, as servers or bartenders have found themselves instantly out of work. As this situation continues to worsen, the question becomes, will there even be service industry jobs to come back to when this is over? While we don't have an answer for that, one Portland business is trying to pitch in to help keep small restaurants afloat.

The business is MuniciPAY, a payment processor located on Congress Street in Portland. They shared on Facebook that while their employees would all be working from home during the pandemic, they were offering all of their employees $50 stipends per week to spend at local restaurants who are offering takeout or curbside pickup. MuniciPAY isn't a big company, but hopes to pour around $2,500 dollars into the local economy over the next several weeks.

But the idea behind giving their employees a stipend to spend locally isn't for recognition. It was their hope that it would inspire other local businesses who are still operating with employees working from home to do the same. If more businesses joined in on the idea, the greater chance that restaurants survive these extraordinary times and that kitchen staff, servers and bartenders will have jobs when this is finally behind us.

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