Dave Beauchamp was walking out of an optometry store last week when he got a FaceTime call offering to help him meet expenses at his struggling downtown Michigan tavern, Champ’s Pub.
The caller was Dave Portnoy, a social media celebrity and founder of Barstool Sports, a sports blog and digital media company. Portnoy created a relief fund, fueled through donations including $500,000 of his own money, to help small businesses nationwide impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s the same fund that Kid Rock is helping to support. Rock tweeted on Monday that he made a donation of $100,000 to the fund and hopes others follow.
“THIS IS THE AMERICA I LOVE!” Put me down for 100K,” Rock tweeted. “And I only post this in hopes others as blessed as me may be moved to help out. – Kid Rock”
In a FaceTime call, Portnoy told Beauchamp: “We wanna help you out, we’ll be there, you’re in the fund… I’m glad to do it.”
Portnoy added, “I love the mustache, glad I got to see it in real life too,” referring to Beauchamp’s signature facial hair, which is also part of Champ’s logo.
It was Beauchamp’s son, David, who saw Portnoy on social media talking about the fund and told him that he had to do this.
“We sent in a brief history of the business and what we needed the money for,” Beauchamp said. “My son got a call a week ago yesterday that they were interested and wanted a short video.
Beauchamp’s son recorded a video of him talking about the business and its history.
On the FaceTime call, Portnoy told Beauchamp that “you’re the exact type of bar we want to help out.”
Beauchamp said he and Portnoy had a nice conversation. “It’s great to be recognized for all these years,” an excited Beauchamp said.
Champ’s Pub, now in its 40th year, is named after Beauchamp’s nickname “Champ.” The pub is known for its signature ground round burger and as a favorite local hangout.
“It’s the exact same product for 39 years,” Beauchamp. “Same bun, meat and cheese. The meat comes from a local butcher Marv’s Meats in Brighton.”
Beauchamp’s famed mustache has also been a mainstay and part of the Champ’s Pub logo since it got its start.
“I haven’t seen my upper lip since 1970,” Beauchamp said.
Right now, Champ’s Pub has seven employees. The restaurant and bar does carryout and has two igloos out front that help, Beauchamp said.
But it’s still a struggle.
“We hope it (the current ban on indoor dining) will be lifted,” Beauchamp said. “The numbers are down. People can go to Toledo and eat but you can’t in Michigan. It’s rather frustrating.”
Putting his money where his mouth is
While Champ’s has been accepted in the fund, it has not received a check. And Beauchamp says he doesn’t know what the amount will be.
The businesses that have been accepted are profiled on the Barstool Sports website.
Champ’s Pub was described as a “Cheers” type of bar after the famed TV sitcom with the “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” theme song.
One of the rules for applying is that businesses must still be paying its employees. You also have to submit what you need the money for. The fund is open to gyms, restaurants, bars and more.
In a video on barstoolsports.com, Portnoy said he began the fund after ranting and raving about how restaurants are going to survive the pandemic. And then TV personality and entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis challenged him in a tweet to “put your money where your mouth is,” saying he’d put “500k if you match it to create a relief fund for NYC-area restaurants.”
And so the fund began. Portnoy put up $500,000 of his own money and started the fund aimed at helping restaurants and other small businesses survive COVID-19.
That was more than two weeks ago and since then the fund is now at $18 million in donations from more than 140,000 donors.
More than 70 businesses have been approved to be part of the fund. At barstoolsports.com/fund, the list of businesses and total donations is updated every 5 minutes.
The fund will help with expenses like payroll, rent and taxes.
How the fund works is that businesses need to apply by sending in a description of the business and meet the criteria of still paying its employees.
Portnoy’s intent is to help an industry that has been “dealt a hand nobody can play,” he said in a video. “We are going to try and save as many small businesses as we can.”