Giving back

HARLINGEN — Eating out can be difficult to do during the shelter in place order in Cameron County, but restaurant owners want to bring the experience to those working hard.

In the midst of a pandemic, restaurants and other food businesses have had to close down their dining rooms or shut down altogether. Though this has affected them economically or caused them to shorten their staff, a few businesses have decided to do a good deed for health care workers who are working day and night.

Annie Heiskell, co-owner at Classic’s Bar and Grill, said they decided to do promotions where burger combos purchased were matched with a donation. This meant for every combo bought by someone else, one would be donated to someone who needed it.

“We decided we wanted to match it so we can get more food out there. We got calls from friends and family members from all over who wanted to participate,” Heiskell said.

Classic’s has also provided donations to departments at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen to help alleviate work stress and brighten moods.

But they are not the only local restaurant giving back at a time of need.

Papa Joe’s Burgers and Brew joined in and donated food to the emergency room at Valley Baptist.

Managing partner Rolly Galvan said their donation was two weeks ago when the restaurant was required to shut down their dining room.

Papa Joe’s donated 25 plates to staff members after hearing from a partner’s wife how stressful times were, said Galvan.

The combos included a burger, fries and a drink.

“They called us and said they were very grateful. It was a good feeling to do it. We are not as big as other companies and there is so much we can do but we are trying to help them,” Galvan said.

“We are struggling just to stay open. We thought this was just going to be a couple of weeks but it’s been hard,” he said.

Papa Joe’s has 25 employees but currently there are only five working. Galvan said even though times are tough, he imagines health care workers are struggling more.

“People in the hospitals gotta be really stressed out with all the stuff they are going through,” he said.

“We are trying to help other local businesses and people in the neighborhood. It’s a tough deal for everybody and we realize that. If we can help in any other way, we’ll be there. We are all in this together” Galvan said.

In a similar fashion, Chef Diego Benitez from Laurel Park Bistro donated food to the VA Healthcare Center in Harlingen last week.

However, Benitez said his staff has decided to stop visiting clinics for safety purposes in the meantime.

“We donated tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, carrot cake and bread pudding,” Benitez said.

“Times are hard but you know what, these are medical staff and providers and they are at the frontline. They are facing the possibility of coming in contact with this and it has been happening in New York and Italy,” he said.

“We had cheese and bread but thought to give it to them for comfort, you know a nice warm meal,” Benitez said.

Besides being a chef, Benitez used to be a medic in the Navy and said he understood and felt for health workers through this time.

“We need to do the best we can to help each other out during these times. You see hoarding but I think right now is the time to be our better selves and reach out and help out instead of thinking it’s the zombie apocalypse,” Benitez said.

Businesses who have supported the community include:

• Frankie Flav’z and SOG International partnered and delivered over 400 meals to Raymondville and Harlingen first responders.

• Firehouse Subs provided lunch to health care workers.

• The Butcher Shop provided meals to Harlingen first responders.

• Stefano’s will be providing 1,000 plates to the community this Easter Sunday.

Source: Harlingen Chamber of Commerce