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Texas Customer's Call-In Order Helps LA Restaurant Pay It Forward

TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

Well, people in California are reeling from surge after surge of COVID-19, with many businesses, including restaurants, still under strict lockdown.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Last month, we talked to Brooke Williamson. She's the owner and chef at Playa Provisions in Los Angeles. And she told us that even her celebrity status as a "Top Chef" winner couldn't insulate her restaurant from the impact.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

BROOKE WILLIAMSON: There was a lot of money lost. And we probably plummeted about 80%. And there were still bills that needed to be paid. There was still a full payroll that needed to happen. I mean, we probably lost a good $100,000 in that first month.

MOSLEY: Williamson and her team have fought to get through these hard times one day at a time. Then a few days ago, they received an unexpected message.

WILLIAMSON: Someone placed an order and wrote into the ticket that they would not be picking that order up. They live in Texas. But they just wanted to show their love and support and place an order for breakfast and to give that breakfast to whomever we felt like needed it the most.

MARTIN: Williamson says she was so blown away by that generosity that she rushed to express her gratitude on social media.

WILLIAMSON: And I took a picture of that ticket and I posted that ticket. And within a few minutes, another ticket came in. And then another ticket came in and another ticket came in, all by people who didn't live in the area placing orders, saying, please get this meal to someone who is in need.

MOSLEY: The orders have come in from all over the country and from other countries, too, orders for almost 250 meals to be given away to someone else.

MARTIN: And there was an even bigger boomerang effect because the customer who placed the very order to pay it forward is a teacher.

WILLIAMSON: And she had an Amazon wish list on her Instagram profile. And someone who was following this story went to her Amazon wish list and purchased her entire classroom supplies list.

MOSLEY: In the days since, Williamson has been able to feed her staff and deliver meals to a nearby fire station and hospital.

WILLIAMSON: Kitchen ticket printers, they run kind of loud so that you can tell when a new ticket comes in. And it's really been kind of a blessing to be able to just lighten the mood in the kitchen and be able to see some familiar faces from people picking up orders that they didn't expect to get.

MOSLEY: And while she acknowledges this kind of support won't save every restaurant, she hopes it will allow for a little more optimism and light.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALLORA MIS' "LEWISBURG") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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