Putting food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic became a little easier for furloughed Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming employees.
Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming distributed $4.4 million in grocery store gift cards to about 22,000 team members in the U.S. and Canada who earn less than $50,000 per year. The first round of distributions for the $100 cards was May 1; round two came two weeks later.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood – whose massive expansion was open for only five months before being shut down in mid-March with all the other Seminole and Hard Rock properties due to the pandemic – handed out about 3,800 cards in round one. A similar number was expected for the second round.
Seminole Hard Rock made the process as festive as possible. During the May 15 distribution, a disc jockey – aka Hard Rock employee Will Otis – blasted rock music. Tribal member Jo-Lin Osceola, also a Hard Rock employee, held up signs of encouragement as a steady stream of vehicles rolled through three lanes in the valet area.
Employees remained in their vehicles and were greeted by Hard Rock personnel – all wearing protective face coverings. They handed out Publix gift cards and anniversary pins that commemorate the 16th anniversary of Hollywood’s Hard Rock grand opening that occurred May 11, 2004. More than 600 vehicles came through in the first hour.
“It’s been phenomenal,” said Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood President Bo Guidry, who was in the middle of it all as he helped with the distributions. “Thank God we have Jim Allen as our CEO and the Tribal Council; they’re so supportive of this. We’re feeding so many of our families. Our employees have been out of work for over a month and a-half and this is a way for us to give back.”
Although faces were covered, it was evident plenty of smiles were present on the giving and receiving ends.
“They’re giving us signs like ‘God Bless You,’ and ‘Can’t Wait to Come Back to Work.’ So everybody is excited,” Guidry said.
A passenger in an SUV flashed a yellow sign with the words “Thank You Seminole Hard Rock. All is One.”
Although no announcement has come yet on the reopening of the Hard Rock in Hollywood, its sister property in Tampa will reopen its doors starting May 21.
In addition to the gift cards, HRI and Seminole Gaming have provided more than $27 million in payroll relief to employees during the COVID-19 crisis, including continued health benefits to all team members.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida – the parent entity of HRI and Seminole Gaming – has also provided a boost to furloughed employees on the tribal side through Publix gift cards and continued health coverage.