An anonymous donor stepped in to support Bill’s Cafe in Naples, Florida, and saved its staff from permanently closing its doors amid the coronavirus lockdown. The donation not only allowed the eatery to stay open, but the owner, Bill Salley, was able to pay it forward to healthcare workers.
One of the cafe’s regulars pulled Salley aside on the day the restaurant was set to close and offered his help.
“He says listen I have two envelopes for you, ‘one for you, one for your help,’” the owner said. “It was so nice and kind of him.”
But, the money in the envelopes wasn’t all the man wanted to offer. According to Salley, he then asked if his staff would be willing to send 100 sandwiches a day to Naples Community Hospital, which sits directly across the street from the diner.
Salley said, “‘A week later he calls me up and tells me, ‘Bill, would you be interested in sending a hundred sandwiches a day across the street to Naples community hospital?’ and before he even finished, I said ‘I’m in!’”
The donations were distributed over the course of a few weeks and totaled $40,000.
Server Andrea Gianello said, “That last day of work, we weren’t planning on coming back until everything reopened.” She added of the generosity, “It felt good that someone genuinely cared about the community to come out and help…and help the nurses and the doctors.”
Salley has remained optimistic despite these uncertain times, hoping things would work out when everything ‘went back to normal.’ “This definitely could have put me under,” he said, but, “as it worked out, it literally saved my cafe.”
Gianello said, “‘We are one that did get saved but there are so many others in Naples that are going under right now just because they can’t keep up.”
A Phoenix, Arizona, restaurant, The Chestnut At the Vintage, also recently received an anonymous donation from a good Samaritan who offered the business enough money to prepare 250 meals per day for those in need. In exchange for delivering the meals, owner Kirsten Steel was also able to keep her staff employed. Chestnut delivered their first round of meals to the nonprofit Hope Women’s Center.
“I think when all this started, people were going out and hoarding, and grabbing toilet paper and paper towels, and all the milk, and the shelves were empty. That’s a very selfish move. This is the most selfless move. They have what they need and they are like, who can we feed? Who can we nourish in this community,” said Steele.
Tammy Abernethy, CEO of HOPE Women’s Center, appreciated the kindness. “It is really encouraging to see everybody can do something. Everyone can do something to help their neighbor. If you have a little extra of one thing to share that with someone else,” she said.
Since receiving the donation, Steele decided to expand the restaurant’s reach by offering customers ‘buy one, give one’ meal option to keep the momentum going.