SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Restaurants across our area are struggling due to COVID-19.

They’re instrumental to our communities, economies, lifestyle and culture. And that’s why Lackawanna College, the city of Scranton, and Scranton Tomorrow announced a plan to give local restaurants a boost.

The initiative is called Rally Around Restaurants, and it will take place in Scranton. The plan is for the city to lend space, resources, and manpower to local restaurants, so they can make a comeback from COVID-19. The pandemic left many local restaurants barely hanging on.

“Something as simple as a rainy summer could take away our outdoor seating and that could have been the end of us. For all the years of planning and work and blood, sweat and tears that we put into it, that’s a really really scary thought,” 16th Ward head chef Kyle Gilboy said.

Lackawanna College did not open its student-run restaurant 409 on Adams this semester because of COVID-19.

“But we still have culinary students who need to train, in all aspects of working in and running a restaurant, and we have restaurant owners who need more space capacity to serve their customers,” Lackawanna College president Jill Murray said.

But Tuesday afternoon, officials with the college, the city of Scranton, and Scranton Tomorrow announced a solution: Rally For Restaurants. 409 on Adams will open its doors to participating restaurants free of charge, to use their outdoor patio, staff, food and beverages.

“Use our students as their labor force. Our commercial kitchens, our beautiful spacious outdoor seating capacity,” chef Stephanie Decker said.

All proceeds go directly to participating restaurants to help offset funds lost due to capacity restrictions.

“We’re counting on the federal government to help and we’re hoping the Senate will come through. But in the meantime, every little thing that we can do counts, whether it’s the city waiving permitting fees or the college opening up this space,” Scranton mayor Paige Cognetti said.

“A couple bucks out of your wallet could save us. It gives these kids a valuable learning experience and it’s just something we could all do for the greater good,” Gilboy said.

The restaurants get an extra venue with extra profits, and the students get to learn. 409 on Adams will add a 20 percent gratuity on every check. Those tips go to scholarships for the students.

Rally for Restaurants begins September 29th at 5 p.m. with Bar Pazzo. Reservations are required. For more information, click here.