ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — One in seven people in the D.C. area are connected to the hospitality industry. That means thousands of people — and their places of work — took a big hit when the pandemic began. They’re used to serving customers, but now the hospitality industry is serving each other, thanks to Hook Hall’s owner Anna Valero. 

Between March and June, Valero and her newly formed organization, Hook Hall Helps, served 10,000 meals and raised $600,000 to support unemployed or underworked hospitality workers. “When bars, restaurants, hotels, events companies do well, so does the surrounding community because there are so many jobs that are connected,” Valero said.

Amidst the increased restrictions and spike in coronavirus cases, Hook Hall Helps has relaunched its efforts. Nick Freshman is offering up his empty restaurant, which was ready to go in the summer, but never opened. 

“Let’s just say this year we’re putting our skills to the test,” Freshman said. “This has been the greatest test of our ability to adapt and evolve that I’ve ever seen.” 

Valero says many of D.C.’s hospitality workers live outside of the District. Thanks to Freshman’s help, now they’ll be distributing from D.C. and Virginia. “Being right here in National Landing, on the Crystal City Metro line, off of a major thoroughfare, off of 395 with ample parking around — I couldn’t have asked for a better partner or a better location,” she said.

Every Thursday, Hook Hall Helps will be serving family meals from a rotating list of restaurants and supplies. 

“To think about others, while trying to simultaneously try to save her own business, is really inspiring,” Freshman said. “And I feel grateful to be a part of that.”