Barstool Fund surprises Chattanooga's Blue Orleans restaurant with grant

Cherita Bloodwirth Adam's emotional video a hit online

The Southside Chattanooga eatery Blue Orleans is shown in this Dec. 4, 2019, photo. / Staff Photo by Robin Rudd

Cherita Bloodwirth Adams and husband Mike Adams have ridden the restaurant ownership rollercoaster ride, enjoying the ups and suffering the downs, as many times as most. They've survived Katrina, the hurricane that pushed them to leave New Orleans and move to Chattanooga, recessions, employees coming and going and all of the other normal travails that come with owning a small business in the food industry.

They had hoped appearing on TV reality show "Restaurant Impossible" last February might give them a bump, but then COVID-19 hit, "and people were dying, so our problems didn't seem big enough to talk about," Bloodwirth Adams said.

With all of that background, it is perhaps easy to see why Bloodwirth Adams reacted as she did on Tuesday upon getting a video call from Dave Portnoy of Barstool Fund fame. Portnoy and his fund have raised $34 million, and counting, to date and he has been providing operational funding to restaurants, bars and other small businesses trying to make it through a pandemic. Bloodwirth Adams said she doesn't even know what the amount of the grant might be, but said anything is a big help.

"I can tell you this," she said, "I am grateful for anything that allows us to pay off a utility bill or purchase more food or buy supplies. They understand what businesses are going through. I don't know the amount and I don't even know the protocal. I also hope now more local businesses will apply."

She can be seen breaking into tears and calling out for her husband as soon as she recognizes Portnoy on the phone. Between the tears and the "Oh my gods," Bloodwirth Adams asks, "Is this real?"

Portnoy tells her that it's obvious they picked the right recipient for the grant.

"I'm glad we can help," Portnoy tells her. "I'm glad you reached out. I've been there. That's why we are doing it."

"Oh my gosh," she said on Wednesday. "It all happened yesterday, and then all of a sudden it's on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. My son called and he said, 'Why didn't you tell me?' He's a huge fan of the Barstool Fund. I didn't know how big a deal Dave is."

Portnoy tells her during the call that someone will reach out in the next day or two and get more information and then the funds will arrive within 72 hours and that someone will contact them every month to see if more funds are needed "until you can get back to business as usual."

Bloodwirth Adams said part of her daily routine has been to apply for any and all such grants or loans.

"People send me stuff or links or applications all the time. It has been very difficult for everybody, but even when all of this has been happening, I don't think we understood the magnitude. As a business owner, you hit bumps. people quit, recessions come along, business goes up and down and you deal with it. But, with COVID, it has stayed so long and created so much downturn, I don't even think about the recovery part of it. We are still in this phase, and you still have to pay your bills.

"We are just so grateful for Dave and the Barstool Fund for targeting bars and restaurants."

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.