How one business is helping create a safety net for restaurants this winter
Courtesy of Maketto

Maketto, a communal marketplace located in Washington D.C. that combines retail, restaurant and cafe experiences.

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As the cold, dark days of winter carry on, restaurants all over the country are struggling to keep patrons coming in the proverbial door. Despite expensive and elaborate upgrades to help make restaurant dining safer, the one-two punch of the pandemic and frigid temperatures has done a number on restaurants' cash flow. Already, 17% of all restaurants in the United States have permanently closed since the start of the pandemic.

The National Restaurant Association described the industry as being "in an economic free-fall" in their plea to the U.S. House of Representatives, for some economic relief. If no help is received, they expect 58% of restaurants to continue furloughs and layoffs in the first quarter of the year.

There are, however, some big businesses doing their part to support the restaurant industry in its time of need. Capital One, for example, is taking a multi-pronged approach to helping the restaurant industry. One of those initiatives is providing over 30 restaurants nationwide with funding to safely and successfully winterize their outdoor dining options so they can stay open and keep their occupancy up.

"Restaurants are anchors in the communities in which we live and work, which is why we're providing them support so they can better access the tools they need to survive these difficult winter months," says Monica Bauder, Head of Cardholder Access at Capital One. "At Capital One, the dining industry has always been an important community to us and we want to continue to find ways to help them through this difficult time."


Cotogna, an Italian restaurant in San Francisco's Jackson Square, was able to build an outdoor structure with a roof and heaters at each table thanks to Capital One's help. The staff also put olive trees between the tables to act as barriers while maintaining the restaurant's ambiance. Now Cotogna can operate at full capacity entirely outdoors.

Courtesy of Cotogna

"We are really committed to making guests feel safe and comfortable and want them to feel like they're eating at the Cotogna they know and love," says Matt Cirne, Cotogna's beverage director. "Having partners like Capital One that are willing to be creative and really help restaurants navigate the uncertainty that lies ahead is crucial."

Two well-known restaurants in Washington, D.C., ABC Pony and Maketto, have also received support from Capital One during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since everyone uses online reservation services these days, Capital One partnered with SevenRooms to provide complimentary table reservation services to restaurants like them. This service will be invaluable for restaurants whether they're able to be open now or later.

"It's going to be crucially important to have constant communication with our guests once it's safe to reopen our indoor dining rooms to ensure that each person feels comfortable," says Erik Bruner-Yang, a Washington D.C.-based chef who also manages ABC Pony and Maketto. "Capital One's sponsorship of our transition to using SevenRooms as our management system will help keep our guests up-to-date in real-time about our COVID-19 safety practices and other important updates."

The impact on the restaurant industry is changing month-to-month though, which is why Capital One is adapting its support to fit the new needs. For example, the company is also working with Bruner-Yang on The Power of 10, an initiative he created that is helping restaurants keep their employees employed and food insecure communities fed. The initiative found that a restaurant can keep 10 full-time staff employed and make 1,000 meals for frontline healthcare workers and other vulnerable community members with $10,000 a week. So far, the partnership has lead to over 55,000 meals served and 280 jobs saved.

Erik Bruner-YangCourtesy of The Power of 10

In order to help the thousands of restaurant workers who've lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Capital One has also partnered with Get Shift Done, a nonprofit that's hiring impacted restaurant workers to help put together food boxes for food-insecure communities nationwide.

And since keeping a restaurant afloat during the pandemic is an uphill battle, Capital One, the official credit card partner of The James Beard Foundation, hosted a free webinar series for restaurant owners as part of the foundation's Open for Good Initiative. The initiative was designed to act as a guidepost for owners during this unprecedented time when the future looks so uncertain, and provided useful information on cash flow, business credit, human resources, social media, and public relations.

Despite the challenges that businesses have faced - and continue to face - more than two-thirds of business owners remain optimistic that their businesses will return to pre-pandemic operations and revenues, according to a recent survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of Capital One Business.

While that optimism is encouraging, it's taken resilience and dedication among business owners to navigate the stressful environment of the past year.

Many businesses, including those in the food services industry, have taken measures to help navigate the economic shutdowns and social distancing mandates brought on by the pandemic. They've adopted contactless payment options, delivery, online ordering and curbside pickup to keep their doors open and stay connected to customers.

To support local restaurants and the broader small business community, Capital One partnered with a coalition of brands and nonprofit organizations to launch Small Unites, a national advocacy program that is providing ongoing support for small businesses across America. As part of Small Unites, anyone can donate to verified small business fundraisers, as well as the Small Business Relief Fund.

Learn more about how Capital One is helping build thriving communities.

Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

Keep Reading Show less

Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

Keep Reading Show less
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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."