Tennessee Restaurant Saved by Barstool Sports Mogul’s COVID-19 Relief Fund


A restaurant in Tennessee is rejoicing after a sports mogul stepped in to help it stay in business its time of need.

Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports has raised more than $33 million for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions through “The Barstool Fund.” He is using that money to keep small businesses afloat. Small businesses of all kinds have been encouraged to submit videos explaining why they need relief, and if selected, Barstool has promised to give the support to remain open until after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

“Hey Dave and the Barstool team, my name is Victoria Harville, and my husband and I own Nick’s Family restaurant in Kingsport, Tennessee,” Victoria Harville said in a video submission. “Nick’s first opened in 1938 and has since then has become a staple to our community. We are one of the few locally-owned restaurants left in our area.”

Harville co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Jaron, who told FOX 17 that he has been patronizing the business since his childhood. Victoria Harville said in her video submission that Nick’s has employees who have worked there for more than 30 years.

“I never thought we were going to have to wonder whether we’d make it to the next month or not, but, like I said, Nick’s has been open since 1938 and we’ve never experienced anything like this before,” she said.

She said the restaurant was forced to sell takeout only for a while, and when they were allowed to reopen, they were only allowed to reopen at half capacity. She said that two restaurants close by were forced to close permanently, and were not able to survive the small business-killing COVID-19 restrictions.

“Our employees have been so loyal to us during this time,” she said. “They have shown up to work with a smile on their face, and they haven’t complained through this.”

Harville said that she is also a nurse, and that even while the restaurant has struggled through the pandemic, Nick’s has been donating meals to frontline healthcare workers treating COVID-19. They have also sponsored meal deliveries to 25 local elderly citizens who are unable to leave their homes because they are at high risk of catching the virus.

“Since March, we’ve delivered over 7,080 meals to these people, and we’ve really developed relationships with each and every one of them,” she said.

Portnoy called on January 25 to deliver the good news.

“If you’ve seen them, we work pretty quick. So we’ll get back in touch after this call, and you’ll have funds within like 72 hours, and then each month, we’ll just reach out and make sure you guys are all right until you can go back to the normal way of doing things,” he said.

Between March and September of 2020 alone, more than 163,000 U.S. small businesses closed – many permanently – due to COVID-19 restrictions, according to Forbes.

Even with two massive spending bills, both of which geared some relief towards small businesses via the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which allows small business owners to borrow money at little-to-no interest, the federal government has not been able to make up for the crushing blows inflicted upon small businesses due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

A third COVID-19 stimulus bill is expected to be passed in the near future, and though vaccines for the virus are currently being distributed, there appears to be no end in sight to lockdowns, limited capacity openings, curfews, and other COVID-19 restrictions.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]






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