Whiskey Jar providing free meals for musicians out of work

Whiskey Jar providing free meals for musicians out of work
Shelves of whiskey (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - For many central Virginia musicians, the curtains will be closed and the stage will be dark for a while. One downtown Charlottesville restaurant is trying to bring a little light back by offering area artists free take-out meals.

“We want to just help them take off the burden of where they’re going to spend those dollars by knowing that they can come here and get a meal, and that can be taken care of at least,” said Whiskey Jar Owner Wilson Richey.

Richey knows that his establishment would not be what it is today without live music at its backbone. “It’s as much a part of what we do as the food itself and the bar and everything.”

That is why Whiskey Jar decided to provide free meals for local career musicians from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. daily. “We started to look outside and figure out who needs help out in the community that that might not be already receiving it,” said Richey.

The decision to cut off live performances was not easy, but after gatherings of more than 10 people were banned, the restaurant had no choice.

“We have so many bands that we work with and having to cancel three months worth of bookings was just heart wrenching for us," said Richey. "It’s hard and every day we’re kind of reevaluating, ‘how can we be better at what we’re trying to do, how can we be more helpful’ but there’s been some fantastic outreach and community.”

Staff at the Whiskey Jar are no stranger to the struggles of living with financial restraints.

“My staff are kind of in the same boat as a lot of musicians, you know, these are servers and kitchen guys live paycheck to paycheck just as much as most career musicians do and so we know very, very much what it feels like to live like that and what that feels like,” added Richey.

Wilson Richey is confident that not only the Whiskey Jar, but many in Charlottesville, will continue to show support during this uncertain time.

“When Charlottesville is hit with disaster, it’s always great for me to see how people pull together and how people support each other and we’re seeing a lot of that," said Richey "At times like this where we all have a united struggle, we can come together as a community, help each other out. Be together support each other on an individual basis.”

Richey says he will keep this effort going as long as he can to keep musicians afloat. The initiative is also on an honor system, so food will be provided, no questions asked.

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