Kyleena Falzone’s restaurants in the mountain resort town of Crested Butte, Colorado, the Secret Stash and Bonez, together made nearly $6 million in revenue last year. But when Gunnison County issued an order March 16 for all visitors to leave as soon as possible, what looked like the start of another busy spring season came to an abrupt end. She had to lay off 132 of her 140 employees. But while her restaurants likely would have survived the lockdown in hibernation mode, she says, “I couldn’t just sit around.”
Instead, Falzone spent the next three months feeding thousands of out-of-work locals through 11 weeks of farmers’ markets handouts, 83 nights of free dinner kits, and three weeks of free groceries. Using social media, she crowdfunded most of the $100,000-plus effort from people who own second homes in the town. Here’s how she pulled off the initiative, which even inspired a similar project thousands of miles away.