Devoted customers rescue small businesses on the brink

That type of kindness is what has actually assisted Renatta Frazier ward off expulsion for Great Home BARBEQUE, her dining establishment in Springfield, Illinois.

She had the ability to settle much of the back lease she owed thanks to contributions from a GoFundMe project begun by her pal and client Dusty Rhodes. It has actually raised almost $3,000 of its $5,000 objective because it was begun on January 10. Plus, she got a different big contribution from somebody who found out about Frazier’s predicament from that project.

While the dining establishment is relatively brand-new — it opened in the fall of 2019 — it has actually gotten a following thanks to the quality of its Chicago-style bbq and Southern side meals based upon dishes from Frazier’s aunties, granny and great-grandmother.

“Everyone I’ve taken or sent there has had a religious experience,” Rhodes stated, keeping in mind that a food author pal was blown away by Frazier’s fried mac-and-cheese balls. She’s likewise experienced firemens lining up for supper to go. “They know their meat,” Rhodes stated.

A few of the goodwill for Great Home BARBEQUE might likewise have actually been created by the reality that Frazier chose to supply totally free hot lunches for kids in the area when schools closed due to the pandemic.

While she still hasn’t had the ability to employ back any of the 7 staffers she needed to release when shutdown orders closed the dining establishment for practically 3 months, she and 3 of her kids — who are partners in business are keeping operations opting for now.

However Frazier is really confident for the future, thanks to the development in her client base over the previous year and the assistance she has actually gotten.

“I greatly trust and believe there is a God and a universe that is limitless… They work through wonderful, amazing, generous people,” Frazier stated.

Aid for a new beginning after a fire

Like lots of entrepreneur, Sally Jo Ocasio saw her profits drop dramatically throughout the shutdown months in the spring. However company at her Ridgway, Colorado, classic shop, The Vault, rebounded rather over a hectic summer season.

She had been looking for a larger retail space and found one just across the street in an early 1900s picturesque building.

She reopened in the new space in mid-December. But two days later, a fire consumed the building, destroying her store and all her inventory, Ocasio said.

When asked by a local paper if she would start a GoFundMe campaign, Ocasio said she didn’t want to because the past year was such a hardship for so many people.

Sally Jo Ocasio's vintage store, The Vault, in Ridgway, Colorado, relocated to a bigger space last month. But it burned down just two days later.

Erin Graham, an owner of a nearby office supply store who is also one of Ocasio’s customers, decided she wanted to help. Without telling Ocasio, Graham and her husband started a GoFundMe campaign for The Vault. It has raised nearly $18,000 so far.

“It’s overwhelming. … It filled my heart with enormous gratitude,” Ocasio said, noting that since Ridgway is such a small town she knows many of the donors.

She has a lot of expenses ahead — including rent on her three-year lease, hiring a lawyer to help her figure out just what insurance will and won’t cover, and the cost of rebuilding her business.

Ocasio doesn’t want to use the money raised for her very near-term expenses, like hiring a lawyer. Instead, she said, she will put it toward an eventual reopening of The Vault.

“[I] will invest it in a fresh start at a new store.”

Students step up for a beloved deli

Minho Kim knows the names of all the students who come to his deli, Sunny’s (or, as it is more popularly known, Harry’s), which is located near the K-12 Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

A big menu favorite for them: Kim’s bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches.

A student who loved Minho Kim's deli sold stickers she designed  of Kim and his employee, Dante, to raise money to help with the store's back rent and other bills.

And those students are loyal customers, even after they graduate. (During CNN Company’ phone conversation with Kim, whose customers call him “Joe,” a Packer grad named Justin stopped in simply to say hello.)

Their loyalty is apparent in the more than $20,000 raised for Kim after he reluctantly started a GoFundMe campaign to help with his back rent and other bills, which kept ballooning as his revenue fell by 70% due to the pandemic. He still is in arrears on his utility bills.

He also promoted the campaign on his Facebook and Instagram accounts. In just a few days, the money came pouring in from students past and present, as well as Packer faculty members.

“Ninety-five percent of the donations came from longtime customers … Kids I’ve known since kindergarten,” Kim said. “I was really, really surprised. It almost made me cry.”

One student, Bella Pitman, even created art of Kim’s deli for stickers she sold and she gave all the proceeds to Kim.

Support for a café owner who treats every customer like a star

In mid-December, Steve Olsen, the owner of the West Bank Café near Manhattan’s theater district, was two weeks away from shutting his doors.

However one of his many longtime customers, off-Broadway producer Tom D’Angora wouldn’t hear of it.

D’Angora and his husband, Michael, teamed up with actor Tim Guinee and writer and performer Joe Iconis, and sprung into action.

Through a GoFundMe campaign, promotion on social media, and a star-studded live-streamed telethon on Christmas Day, their efforts raised $342,000.

Theater producer Tom D'Angora (second from left), along with his husband, Michael (far left) and performer Joe Iconis (far right) raised more than $300,000 to help save the West Bank Cafe, owned by Steve Olsen (second from right).

Most of the funds came from small donations. “We’re a community that’s been out of work since March. You generously saw members of the theater community giving whatever they could. A bunch of people giving a little bit can really make a difference,” D’Angora stated.

Olsen is beyond touched. “The support is amazing. It’s a miracle,” he stated.

But D’Angora isn’t surprised. “Steve Olsen goes to every table and sits down with customers. He treats me as well as Al Pacino. No matter who you are, you’re treated as family,” he stated.

And that family is huge since the restaurant — which is an institution for the New York theater community and residents of midtown Manhattan — has actually been around for 42 years.

When he first opened the West Bank Cafe in 1978, Olsen stated, “I told my staff, ‘They’ll come for food, but they’ll return for the hospitality if you treat them nice.'”

And, as their recent support has shown, they’ll be there when the chips are down.

“He treated me like a star and VIP from Day One. He treated me as well 15 years ago as he did today after raising $300,000 for him,” D’Angora stated. “I told him, ‘This is your George Bailey moment. No man is a failure who has friends.'”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.