Giving Love to Those That Work For It

How the little businesses need your help


Photo courtesy of Nina, my best friend and teacher.

Ethel Yagudayeva, Photo/Art Editor & Design Editor

I began work as a sophomore, arguably in the worst time possible to find a job. When I joined the gang, it wasn’t too bad, and adapted easily. In fact, my family and I have known the owner of the restaurant for about 7 years, so it wasn’t bad at all. Working there became a highlight of my week. Now it’s gloomy and lonely.

I work at an authentic Italian restaurant, Gallo Bar and Supper Club. The chef and owner of the restaurant is a Sicilian guy that has been professionally cooking since running away to culinary school at age 12. After closing down his previous restaurant, Wholly Cannoli, about 2 years back, he moved and opened this place. I am a fan of this restaurant! The dishes, big or small, saucy or plain, spicy or light, are the best way to relax. His desserts are a highlight, summoning hungry sweet-toothed customers from an hour away. That’s where I work, in the dessert corner of his restaurant. 

I lived off of his desserts. There was anything and everything you needed. Honestly, it’s hard to stare at these desserts for a whole shift and not grab a cookie or two while nobody’s looking. But it was best to look at peoples faces when they enter and see 3 cases filled with desserts. And then you get to fulfill all of their cravings. Whether they came in for desserts to give as a gift for a party, a general dinner, or a treat for themselves after a hard week. You see it in their eyes when they know that this box that I’m preparing for them is gonna make everything a bit better.

It’s electrifying! 

I’m the youngest in the bunch, with only a few other teenagers. All of the staff there are so nice and supportive. They help you out with your own hiccups while they balance five plates or deal with a long line. Everybody is everywhere because they are needed there. That’s how I got to know everybody a little better. 

I loved ending my school week with a shift at the restaurant. It’s hectic on Fridays, but the more the merrier. I had great teachers that taught me how to do everything, even if I still suck at some things now. I became part of the culture there; playing Among Us after our shifts ended, or grabbing a slice of berry tiramisu to chat with my friends. I became part of the group chat, that I loved to participate in more than ever. There hasn’t been a day, since I started working, when I left the place disappointed or unsuccessful. It was a family owned business, nowhere close to Olive Garden or whatnot. We all knew that when we had regular customers come in, it wasn’t because they were in a hurry and wanted some junk food, but because they liked this place, and wanted to genuinely spend time in an authentic restaurant that needed love. 

The ones that choose to help out small restaurants and stores are the ones that have enough love to share to those that work for it. I loved that place. 

Then it started crippling a little. 

After an alert was issued in the Arapahoe area, claiming that the county entered the Red Zone, everybody sighed. Except that there was a difference between mine and everybody else’s. They sighed because they knew what was coming. I sighed because I simply thought I’ll miss a few shifts, but nothing too dreadful would happen. I was wrong.

With the new alert, dine-in was completely banned, leaving out only pick-ups or quick stops for desserts. That also meant less staff on the job. I understood that those with a broader experience would get to work more than those like me, who only knew how to deal with desserts and answer calls on some occasions. But I didn’t know it was going to look this bad when I came in one weekend. 

I haven’t had shifts from the time the warning was issued. I would look for my name on the schedule that was released on the group chat every week, but to no avail. I’d call in every Friday to see if I could come in, but there wasn’t enough business to support more people. So I had to settle with that. Then, just 3 days ago, my family and some other family friends chose to stop by Gallo to order a few pizzas after a long day of sledding. I wanted to come in and say ‘hi’ to everybody, but there wasn’t really everybody to say ‘hi’ to. It was dark, gloomy, and lonely. Chris was the only one at the bar serving 2 customers, two or three people in the kitchen, and nobody in the bakery. 

It was cold. Don’t get me wrong, I was in ski pants, a hat, and a fuzzy sweater. It just wasn’t as happy and warm as it used to be, bustling around and hearing people laugh. 

“Chris, how come you’re all alone here up front?! Where is everybody?”

He just shrugged and smiled like he usually would. “Well, there isn’t enough business, so I’m here up front for the time being. But, I am so glad that I have been blessed with this opportunity to work here at this time!”

He wasn’t making it up. When Chris says that he has been blessed with something, then he has been blessed, and is happy with it. 

While dad went back to the kitchen to chat a bit, I roamed around and went to my familiar little corner. Nobody was there, but the desserts were stacked up high. Made me want to sell them all so bad. The place was clean, like it wasn’t used at all today. And there were no giant stacks of receipts on the needle. 

I was called back after the pizzas came out, so I couldn’t stay much longer. I said my goodbyes to Chris and the two customers and went out to eat on the hoods of our cars out back. 

All I could think about was how to help out. I knew I wasn’t getting a shift anytime soon, but I needed to do something. I asked my parents if we could go back in and buy some desserts for the next few days. They said it wasn’t necessary right now, but I thought quite the opposite. It was needed more than anything. 

I don’t know how all of you are. I don’t know if all of you prefer to stop at a McDonald drive thru or order delivery from Papa Johns. I don’t know if you like P.F. Chang’s or Panda Express more than stopping at that small ramen place a few minutes away. I know that my family would rather cook than order food every other day. Yet that doesn’t stop us from going to those small little places we love and get as much food as we can. I feel the love that is radiated through a restaurant or kitchen when someone is whipping up your food. I don’t feel it while sitting in a car waiting for someone to slap two buns and some cheese together to roll in a piece of paper. They can keep slapping those burgers together all of eternity for all I care. I would love it if people cared more. 

People don’t know what it’s like to feel accomplished by having customers in a small little restaurant or shop, until they work there and pour their heart and soul into the place. But I’d love to explain that to those who don’t understand! 

People work for the little spark of happiness they see on people’s faces. But they can’t keep working if they stop seeing the sparks fly in. To us, every person matters. We have enough love and support to share with everybody. We sing just as loud for every birthday, we cheer just as much for those that came in with a smile, and we equally send hope to those that came in with a frown. We love to give. Now, it’s your turn to give. Please, help out those small little places that need some love and support. Come in with a smile, buy anything that catches your eye, and let the people working there know that they’ll get back on their feet soon. The love and happiness will come boomerang-ing back, I promise. 

The ones that choose to help out small restaurants and stores are the ones that have enough love to share to those that work for it.