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Southern Smoke Foundation Has Given Out More Than $5 Million in Donations to Restaurant Industry Workers

Plus, the opening of Tiny Champions is imminent, and more Bayou City dining intel

Chris Shepherd in an apron.
Chris Shepherd of Southern Smoke was lauded as a hero by the Houston Chronicle
Julie Soefer

Welcome to AM Intel in the time of coronavirus, a round-up of the city’s newest bits of restaurant-related intel. Follow Eater on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date details on how COVID-19 is impacting the city’s dining scene.

Southern Smoke Foundation reaches $5 million milestone

Southern Smoke, the Houston-based crisis relief organization that benefits workers in the food and beverage industry, reached a major milestone last week. In an Instagram post, the foundation shared that it had granted more than $5 million in donations and funds since its founding five years ago. The foundation, which has taken on new importance as the hospitality industry struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, was founded by Houston chef Chris Shepherd, who was recently lauded as a hero to the industry in a glowing Houston Chronicle profile.

Bobby Heugel, Anvil opt out of Tales of the Cocktail awards

Houston bartending mogul Bobby Heugel has taken his bar, Anvil, out of the running for future Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Tales of the Cocktail is an annual bartending festival and conference that usually takes place in New Orleans, but went virtual this year. The much-lauded bar was one of four finalists in the category Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar. The winner, ABV in San Francisco, was announced last week. Writing on Instagram, Heugel said that he appreciated the recognition Anvil has received over the years, but that the industry has for too long overlooked the accomplishments of bars owned by women and people of color.

Tiny Champions’ opening is imminent

Tiny Champions, the much-anticipated pizza and fermentation restaurant from the team behind Nancy’s Hustle, could open as soon as October. Co-owner Sean Jensen told CultureMap that the restaurant, at 2716 McKinney Street, is almost fully staffed and its menu is being finalized. Meanwhile, Nancy’s Hustle, which has been closed for dine-in service since the pandemic began, reopened last week at 50% capacity.