CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Many restaurants in our area are short-staffed in part because of COVID-19. Wednesday Charleston leaders and state leaders announced a new initiative that they hope will help attract more people to the industry.

Organizers are hoping it will help not just now but long term as well. The High Roads Kitchen program will give grants to seven West Virginia restaurants that will pay higher wages to tipped workers.

The state will partner with the group One Fair Wage to distribute $50,000 in relief for restaurant owners and essential workers.

They hope restaurant owners can use that money to help level the playing field and make the industry more appealing.

Keeley Steele is a restaurant owner and Charleston City Council member. She said the partnership has a great deal of potential. “The grant comes with a promise and one of those promises is amping up to our regional minimum wage plus tips on top of that,” she said. “I’m already doing that here when we reopen our full-service restaurant I plan to implement that same strategy.”

The announcement happened at Steele’s business Starlings Coffee and Provisions.

For information on how to apply for one of those grants click here.