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  • Writer's pictureMary Ann

Otaku Ramen to Provide Restaurant Workers Meals Through Lee Initiative

Program announces additional partners, cities, and commitment to serving restaurant workers in need

In response to massive layoffs in the hospitality industry due to the COVID-19 outbreak nationwide, Chef Edward Lee, in partnership with The LEE Initiative and Maker’s Mark, launched The Restaurant Workers Relief Program, which is now running 16 relief kitchens for restaurant employees and has served over 80,000 meals nationwide.

Beginning Wednesday, April 29th, the Lee Initiative will activate a local partnership with Chef Sarah Gavigan of Otaku Ramen. Gavigan’s team will serve up to 250 meals per day, Wednesday through Sunday out of Otaku To-Go on Gallatin Ave. in East Nashville. Pick up times will be from 2 pm to 4 pm each day through contactless pickup. This program will run for 4 weeks, ending on May 31st. "In a time of so much uncertainty for our fellow hospitality industry professionals, our team at Otaku Ramen is committed and honored to feed as many people as possible to those affected here in Nashville." -Sarah Gavigan

The LEE Initiative announces new partners and expansion plans as the COVID-19 crisis continues to devastate the restaurant industry. In addition to a continued partnership with Maker’s Mark, The LEE Initiative has recently received generous donations from Ashbourne Farms, Independent Stave Company, Kentucky Fund for the Arts, Tabasco and Vanity Fair Napkins®. These funds will enable the program to continue in duration and also expand in reach to new cities across the country. 

Address for meal pickup is as follows:


604 Gallatin Ave. #203

Nashville TN 37206

SOCIAL: @otakuramen

All hospitality workers are invited to participate simply by showing a pay stub when picking up a meal.

“This crisis doesn’t have an end in sight, and we’re committed to supporting our colleagues, family, and friends throughout the entirety of this. We’re in it together,” says Lee. 

For more information on the relief efforts, please follow The LEE Initiative on social media

About The LEE Initiative’s Restaurant Workers Relief Program 

In response to massive layoffs in the hospitality industry due to the COVID-19 outbreak nationwide, Chef Edward Lee, in partnership with The LEE Initiative and Maker’s Mark, launched The Restaurant Workers Relief Program. This program started on Tuesday, March 17 out of the catering kitchen of Lee’s restaurant, 610 Magnolia, and has since expanded to include services offered out of 16 kitchens nationwide, and 100,000 meals served thus far. For more information visit the website or donation page.

About Chef Edward Lee

Chef Edward Lee is the chef/owner of 610 Magnolia, The Wine Studio, MilkWood, and Whiskey Dry in Louisville, KY and culinary director for Succotash in National Harbor, MD and in DC.  He has received multiple finalist nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards Best Chef: Southeast.  He appears frequently in print and television and was recently nominated for a daytime Emmy for his role as host of the Emmy-winning series, Mind of Chef on PBS.  Lee won a James Beard Foundation Award for Writing for his book Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting Pot Cuisine (Artisan Books, April 2018).  He also authored Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen (Artisan Books, May 2013). His documentary film, Fermented, follows him around the world as he explores the rich culinary and cultural traditions of fermented food. For more information on Chef Edward Lee, please follow him on Twitter or Instagram or visit

About Maker’s Mark® Bourbon

In 1953, in Loretto, Kentucky, Bill Samuels, Sr., fulfilled his dream to create a handmade and delicious bourbon. He decided to make his whisky in small batches, using soft red winter wheat to enhance the softness and sweetness. He then rotated each barrel by hand for consistency, and finally, aged each barrel to taste. Bill Samuels, Sr., transformed bourbon from a "commodity" into a premium handmade spirit, and today Maker's Mark® continues to make its bourbon the same way. In recent years, Maker's Mark has introduced thoughtful, super-premium innovations to its portfolio including Maker’s Mark 46™  Maker's Mark® Cask Strength, and Maker's Mark Private Select®, the brand's first-ever custom barrel program. In 1980, the Maker's Mark distillery became the first distillery in America to be designated a National Historic Landmark and has also been decreed as the "world's oldest operating bourbon whiskey distillery" by Guinness World Records. It remains one of the Commonwealth of Kentucky's most popular tourist destinations, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. For more information, visit  


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