When Rob Matthews and Grace Robinson-Leo, of the branding studio Decade, saw New York City restaurants begin to close, they knew that they wanted to help. As a creative studio, the pair wanted to utilize the skills they had in design and marketing, and landed on creating a variety of artful recipes submitted from various restaurants and compiled into an online resource called Family Meal. The recipes are available for download with donation to the restaurant employee relief fund they come from, and soon, as a collection book. 

“We saw people put up the GoFundMe pages so they could still pay their staff during [lockdown]. We’ve both been in New York for quite a while, and like a lot of people in New York the restaurants here are a major part of our experience,” Matthews said. “We don’t have any footing in the restaurant industry or the food industry at all, but it was something [we did] just as fans. When we saw that the restaurants could potentially not exist anymore we just brainstormed what we could do with our skill set to help out.” 

The project was completed entirely pro-bono, both from Decade and the recipe designers they enlisted. It includes recipes from spots like Pies n’ Thighs, Roman’s, Kopitiam, and Gertie’s, that vary from drinks to desserts. By pairing a designer with each restaurant, readers enjoy an entirely unique design for each recipe submission. 

“The project’s goal is to get awareness out there, so basically I believe that the project just has become more relevant because, what could have happened? We could have done this project and then COVID could have been solved or the government could have actually done what they should have done. So many things could have happened that would have rendered the project less useful, which would have been great,” Matthews said. 

Both Matthews and Robinson-Leo wanted to use the project to reach people outside of just the restaurant industry to broaden the reach for donations. 

“There’s this visual component that not only made the project or getting the recipes more appealing to people outside of the industry, but also made them very visual and very shareable on social,” Matthews said. The Instagram for the project boasts thousands of followers and is often reposted. 

Since they knew they wouldn’t be able to reach every restaurant in the city to do a recipe print, the idea for the collective book came out of conversations with ROAR, a restaurant employee relief collective. Proceeds from each book sold benefit the collective, and in turn, help more restaurants than just those that were able to submit recipes originally. Matthews says that books will likely go to print at the end of this month or early next, so there’s still time to grab a copy and support New York City restaurant workers.