“Back in the day, a bunch of us worked at Bar Cento with Gerson Velasquez, and we’ve all kept in touch over the years,” explains Jeff Draeger. “For the last two years he’s been trying to open Half Moon Bakery over by MetroHealth.”
Near the end of the process, he adds, the family was dealt a series of unprovoked legal, financial and immigrations blows that have completely upended the family’s dreams. At this point, they stand to lose $100,000 and two years of their blood, sweat, and tears.
“It’s a terrible situation, so we got the idea to put together a fundraiser ‘on the fly,’” says Draeger. “Everybody has been super receptive, donating their time and food to help a person and family that many of them don’t even know.”
The fundraiser will take place at the Black Pig on Monday, April 29th. Numerous industry professionals, chefs and breweries have stepped up, including Ohio City Provisions, Salt, Flying Fig, Tremont Taphouse, Soho, Larder, Banter, Market Garden, Astoria Cafe, The Plum, Good Company, Comeback City BBQ, Any Thyme Any Plate, Mad Tree Brewing, Fat Heads and Terrestrial Brewing and Black Pig. More are signing on by the day.
The casual grazing-style event is open to the public. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door, with all of the proceeds going to the Velasquez family. There will also be a raffle with donations from local businesses and restaurants.
“This is Cleveland industry people helping other industry people – all one big family,” says Draeger.
The Velasquez family has spent years perfecting their empanada recipes at various pop-up events around town. With friends and colleagues like these, and continued assistance from the Economic and Community Development Institute, their dream of opening the brick-and-mortar bakery in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood will still come to fruition.
Here’s the Facebook event
Here’s the Eventbrite
Here’s a complementary GoFundMe page