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Stone Brewing
Outdoor seating at Stone Brewing World & Bistro Gardens in Escondido. Stone recently announced a second round of disbursements to employees who were laid off due to COVID-19 shutdowns. Photo courtesy of Stone Brewing
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Stone Brewing donates more than $140,000 to laid off employees

ESCONDIDO – Stone Brewing announced last week that it would be donating more than $140,000 to its former employees who were laid off due to COVID-19 shutdowns. This is the second round of disbursements from what the company calls the Team Stone Relief Fund.

Back in April, Stone laid off more than 300 employees after statewide orders forced them, and numerous other businesses, to close down in March.

The brewery, which has two World Bistro & Gardens locations, including one in Escondido, as well as several taprooms in San Diego County, reopened its doors at the beginning of June but faced criticism for not hiring back the majority of their employees.

“Immediately following our layoffs caused by the COVID-19 shutdown, we created a fund to support all laid-off employees. Our co-founder, Greg Koch, contributed his entire 2020 salary. Co-Founder Steve Wagner, CEO Dominic Engels and other executives also contributed. We opened it up to the rest of Team Stone and are proud to have offered additional support to these employees during this time,” said Gregg Frazer, Stone’s VP of hospitality, back in June.

Soon after The Coast News reported on these claims that Stone mishandled company layoffs, Stone’s laid-off employees who applied for the Team Stone Relief Fund received $1,000 each, totaling a $250,000 contribution.

In a second round of disbursements, Stone will donate $140,000 to former employees by the end of the month, totaling nearly $400,000 in funds.

Lizzie Younkin, Stone’s director of public relations and communications, told The Coast News that they decided to do a second round because they had expedited the first round to address the immediate needs of their former employees, but they continued to receive donations to the Team Stone Relief Fund after the first distribution.

“Like many businesses, Stone Brewing has not been spared by this pandemic,” said Greg Koch, executive chairman & co-founder.  “Laying off team members who helped build this company really hurt… it still hurts. But we’ve received many grateful and touching notes from the folks who received the funds, letting us know that the money went to things like rent, health insurance and childcare. This is what Team Stone is all about. I’m honored to work alongside those who dug deep into their own pockets to make a difference for their colleagues.”

The announcement comes as San Diego enters the most restrictive purple tier in California’s system of coronavirus res.

The brewery’s World Bistro & Gardens locations are currently open for outside dining only.