The Grant County community is answering the call to support local restaurants that are struggling due to the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Employees of the Grant FSSA Service Center operated by Conduent organized a list of locally-owned restaurants and have begun to order lunch from two local restaurants daily.

On Thursday morning, 80 employees ordered approximately $800 worth of food from J & L Breakfast House and Los Amores Restaurant.

“That helped us. That tremendously helped us,” said Tonya Davis, the co-owner of J & L.

Tonya’s twin sister and co-owner, Sonja Davis, said the restaurant is not making half of the profits it made before the spread of the coronavirus led to Gov. Eric Holcomb ordering the closure of dine-in restaurant services and limiting restaurants to take out and delivery.

“It’s really impacted us,” Sonja said.

The coworkers placed 32 orders totaling $189 and tipped the delivery person $140, Sonja said.

“(The delivery person is) my daughter-in-law, so that took care of my grandkids,” Sonja said. “We all cried. We were back there, just crying.”

Tonya and Sonja said they are optimistic about the future because of the support from the community.

“We’ve been here 30 years, and our community has totally supported us,” Sonja said. “Keep coming. We’re not going to let go. We’re not going to shut down. We’re going to keep going and hang in here. We’re going to make it.”

Forty-two coworkers ordered lunch from Los Amores, totaling almost $400.

“I feel like I am living in a miracle,” said Keith Bennett, the co-owner of Los Amores. “I don’t have words to express the gratitude I have to everybody. It’s humbling.”

Yuriana Bennett, co-owner of Los Amores, said she is also grateful for the response from the community.

“I am so amazed by what is going on,” Yuriana said. “Every time I hear that people are tipping good amounts for the servers, I get excited.”

The support of the community today will not be forgotten, Keith said.

“They’re paying it forward. We’re taking note of those people, and they will be rewarded later on. When we are back up and running, we will do something special,” Keith said. “We won’t forget what this community has done for us.”

Keith said he has been ordering food from other local restaurants, including Brooks Upper Crust Pizza and Grill, because he cares about supporting businesses like theirs.

“They’ve helped us. We’ve had a lot of help from other small business owners,” Keith said. “We’re all in this together.”

On Friday, 34 coworkers ordered lunch from Jackie’s Family Restaurant in Gas City.

“(Supporting local restaurants is) very, very important. It’s the only way they are going to make it,” said owner Jackie Ingle.

Ingle said she is grateful for the support from the Conduent employees, and she hopes other organizations decide to do the same thing in the future.

“You just go day by day and hope people can place to-go orders as long as they are able to,” Ingle said. “Try to support your local businesses the best you can.”

Thirty-four coworkers ordered lunch from the Hong Kong Restaurant in Marion on Friday.

Lindsey Mai, the owner of Hong Kong Restaurant for 33 years, said she is grateful for their support.

“We’ve been open for so long,” said restaurant manager Marissa Mclain. “We’ve stayed open because of our community.”

Mclain said she has worked at Hong Kong Restaurant for seven years because she has found a family there.

“If my people, my customers, didn’t have so much love for me and my love for them, it wouldn’t work,” Mclain said. “They are family.”

Conduent Operations Manager Cathy Guthrie organized the effort.

“We’re always looking for things to do in Marion to support the community,” Guthrie said. “What was really cool about it was that some of the people’s orders were only $5, but they were giving us $10. We had asked them all to give an extra dollar if they could spare it to cover the tip, and we got way beyond that. It was really surprising.”

Guthrie said Conduent will continue to order from two different local restaurants every day as long as they are open.

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