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Columbus Restaurant Week 2018 kicks off benefiting grassroots industry charity

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) - Daily, constant pain. That's how local Your Pie employee Juliana Cowart describes her life before discovering she had to go under the knife -- and miss six weeks of work -- upon being diagnosed with endometriosis.

"I was just ignoring my body, I had to," Cowart recalls. "I think a lot of times people have a hard time speaking up and saying, hey I have this thing and I can't do what everyone else can. By the time we got to the surgery process, we discovered I had a hernia. I have no idea if it had gotten worse in that time I was putting off my pain."

She says she also had no idea how to pay for the surgery, plus her living expenses.

"It was a risk. I didn't know how I was going to handle it, but  I knew that I had to, somehow, handle all my living expenses on nothing. For a minute I thought, I'll just put it off and wait until financially I'm more stable. When in reality, it had to happen then."

Luckily, Cowart heard about The Giving Kitchen -- a Georgia grassroots charity dedicated to helping members of the restaurant industry navigate life's medical and personal pitfalls.

"When we see people in these crises, whether it's as simple as breaking your leg or as devastating as a cancer diagnosis, and it's the nature of the industry that they're often under paid and under insured. So we see them on this downward spiral towards homelessness," explains Leah Melnick, the Programs Director for The Giving Kitchen.

"We're here to step in, bridge that gap, and stop that from happening by paying rent, paying utilities, and covering those living expenses to keep a roof over their head. Then they don't have to worry about that while they work to sort out their crisis." 

The Giving Kitchen paid for several months of Cowart's rent and utilities while she sorted out her surgery -- keeping her firmly on her feet.

"It was revolutionary, like it was like a weight had been lifted off or like a breath of fresh air," she describes to News 3's Mikhaela Singleton. "It was like a fairy godmother just like came down and was like, boom -- you had a problem? It's fixed. Like, it was unreal."

Restaurant Week 2018 kicks off in Columbus starting Monday and lasting until Sunday, July 29. This year, the proceeds from 20 restaurants offering varied, discounted menus will go towards The Giving Kitchen and supporting those in need across Georgia.

"We've been a part of Restaurant Week before, and when we heard The Giving Kitchen would be involved, it was a no brainer to say, yes absolutely we want to support this," says Cassie Myers, Marketing Director for Valley Hospitality, which manages more than 20 restaurants across Columbus, including Cannon Brew Pub which is participating in Restaurant Week.

"For the community to come together and stand for something on solid ground, no matter what you think about anybody, no matter your political differences, no matter anything -- you're here to support somebody. You're here to support the community and the restaurant industry, and I just think it's a true testament of the city of Columbus and the people here and that we really are full of love."

The following restaurants are participating in Restaurant Week 2018:

  • 11th and Bay
  • B Merrells
  • Bareroots Farmacy
  • The Black Cow
  • Blu Crabs
  • BlueWater Grill
  • Buckhead Grill
  • Caffe Amici
  • Cannon Brewpub
  • Epic
  • Houlihans Downtown Columbus/Houlihans North Columbus
  • Mabella
  • Mortens At Old Town
  • Nonic
  • River and Rail
  • Rose Cottage
  • Smoke, Bourbon & BBQ
  • The Hangout
  • The Loft
  • Treviolis
  • Wicked Hen

All participating restaurants will offer selections from their local gourmet menus, and even a few delicacies created exclusively for this event, at fixed prices for either $15, $25, or $35.

To learn more, contact the participating restaurants or Yalla Public Relations.


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