A benefit concert happening Sunday will support 24 people who have been out of work since the weekend when a fire destroyed part of the kitchen at their Sixth Street dive.
Casino El Camino Bar and Grill, open since 1994, is famous for its burgers and bloody marys. It’s now been closed for close to a week, meaning the workers who rely on tips aren’t getting what they need.
“Here we are at the end of the month and the place burnt down and you don’t have your shifts,” said Ivy Evaleena, a former employee. “That means you don’t have your rent paid; you don’t have your bills paid.”
When she heard about the fire, her first thought was about the people she used to work with. She described the group as a family. “I said immediately right then, ‘Alright, we need to do something.'”
She organized the benefit Sunday, pulling in bands she knows and committing her dogs to a puppy kissing booth, which is exactly what it sounds like.
“Something like this just, you know, big wrecking ball all of a sudden puts a lot of people out of work,” Zach Volta, the chef at Casino El Camino, said. “Taking that away just leaves us all in a bind.”
A lot of the employees live together, too, so when rent comes due in a few days, many of them who count on those last few shifts in a month to make enough will be unable to contribute.
“A lot of us live shift to shift, week to week,” bartender Brittany Godfrey said.
A GoFundMe page has already raised a couple thousand dollars, from friends, regulars and other service industry employees who know the struggle. But the 24 employees will need more without a week of shifts to help them make rent, even those who have been able to find temporary work in the last few days.
Ivy Evaleena is thankful for the support the city has already given to the employees she considers family. “It seems like old Austin again, like back in the day when this was a small town.”
When Casino El Camino opened 24 years ago, it became a popular spot for the people who worked on 6th Street to hang out after they finished their shifts. SInce then their burgers have been featured on the Food Network and regularly make Austin’s “best of” lists. The money raised at the benefit will get employees by in the few weeks they think it’ll take to repair the building.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” Volta said, “but, you know, right now we kind of really need it. We need the help; we need anything we can get.”
Meanwhile he and the others are ready to get back to work. “We’ll be up and running sooner or later.”
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