Save Sawtelle Restaurant Employees (COVID19)

Dear supporters,

First we would like to personally thank you for taking your valuable time to read our GoFundMe campaign aimed to support employees at Daikokuya and Izakaya Sasaya (and few more restaurants pending decisions to join). You probably were taken to this page as a result of your kind thought to help others despite the fact that you too are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. We would like to ask you to make a donation for our cause and/or share this campaign with your friends and families. Any sort of contribution is appreciated by our employees.


Sawtelle (aka Little Osaka) located in the heart of West Los Angeles has been the prime location for authentic Japanese restaurants for decades. Despite the consistent customer traffic, small businesses and family owned restaurants operate month-to-month trying to make enough to cover basic operational costs - rent, payrolls, vendor payments, utilities. These restaurants are put in a now-even-harder situation as a direct result of COVID-19 outbreak and the executive order limiting sales to take-outs and deliveries. With diligent management and anticipated aids from the government and local authorities, many of our restaurant businesses may have a better chance of survival. But our thought lie within our employees' health and financial well-being as they are like our family members to us. As we are now passing the first month of Stay-at-Home order, we began to notice a minor portion of the employees are stranded with no income or aid. Our collaborative effort by Team Little Osaka, formed among well-regarded restaurants in Sawtelle area, aims to financially support the employees who fall between the cracks of the federal/local aid programs.

Our story began a month ago on March 15, 2020 when the Stay-at-Home order was mandated for all the Los Angeles restaurants. All of us, without exception, were fearful of both physical and financial uncertainties and started searching for any possible opportunities to navigate the crisis. As time passed, lots of the Sawtelle area restaurants gradually stepped up to communicate with each other to share information over applying for various aids, increasing sales and profitability, and implementing operational measures to safely serve the customers during the pandemic.

That is when one of our Sawtelle restaurant union members pointed out whether we can help out the employees in need. We noted situations of employees where they are not eligible for any sort of financial aid. One employee told us his situation: he is a H-1B visa worker in one of the Sawtelle restaurant and he temporarily lost his job and income. His working visa was suspended as a result of the outbreak measures taken by the Federal government. Another employee anticipated being hired right before the pandemic but the hiring decision has been delayed for indefinite time. And many have applied for unemployment benefits, believing themselves eligible were denied certification. Most of them already missed out on April rent payment and possibly will end up with much more debt if the current situation continues. We are aware that these types of situations are not unique.

Everyone living in our country is experiencing difficulty regardless of severity. But eligible businesses and unemployed people receive bailouts or benefits - business owners receive governmental grants and loans that would cover a few months of operation while certified unemployed people receive maximum weekly benefit of $1,050. On top of that many will receive a one-time $1,200 stimulus check. We are not saying that these measures are enough but eligibility in benefits has definitely helped sort through the stress. But understand that there are a few - people who you have very likely been provided service by if you ever had dined at restaurants in Los Angeles - who are not receiving any support and are stranded, depressed for their future. The Sawtelle restaurant owners/managers are already contributing a lot by providing financial aid, free food, and by many other means. But we too have limited resources. Please join us and help provide them some support. 

How you can support:
We are asking you to support in three different ways to the extent possible.
1) Please donate whatever amount you can through this GoFundMe campaign. Every dollar counts and 100% of the proceeds go to the employees in extreme need. 
2) Please share this campaign to your friends via emails, SNS, or any other modes. This would help us drive the total contribution to this campaign.
3) Please consider ordering take-out/delivery from the Sawtelle/WLA restaurants to help the community based businesses survive and to increase the chance for them to rehire their employees. The link to the list of restaurants and their take-out/delivery channels will be updated soon.

Donation Distribution: 
We aim at distributing $500 to each employee who are not receiving any or minimal governmental/local support. The eligibility to receive the donation will be determined based on a) self-certification that they are in desperate need to cover their living cost b) personal interviews conducted by the Team Little Osaka members on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once eligible, donees will setup a direct deposit or check payment to receive the donation.

The distribution priority will be given first to the eligible employees at the organizers (Daikokuya and Izakaya Sasaya) because  they have already identified and interviewed the headcount of employees in need and the initial fundraiser goal of $10,000 is set as a factor between the headcount and grant per employee. Any excess will be considered for other restaurant employees on a first-come, first-serve basis. The fundraiser goal may be upward adjusted based on additional restaurants participation and their employee-in-need headcount, with the first-come, first-serve stipulation.

Thank you very much for your support and let's get through this together! We look forward to seeing everyone face-to-face once we reopen our restaurants.

With the deepest gratitude and appreciation,

Team Little Osaka



  • Benjamin Lindsay 
    • $500 
    • 3 mos
  • Audrey Tawa 
    • $60 
    • 3 mos
  • Cindy O'Connor 
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Pam Yoon 
    • $70 
    • 3 mos
  • Ronnie Blackburn 
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Team Little Osaka (3)

Koichi Haneda 
Raised $300 from 2 donations
Los Angeles, CA
Motoi Takahashi 
Team member
Raised $25 from 1 donation
Chihiro Shinzaki 
Team member
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