INDIANAPOLIS — A long-time customer of a local restaurant decided to pay it forward, giving back to the workers who are trying to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"She said she thought of us as family, was worried about the restaurant and the place where she came every week and what are we going to do," Sandy Schimmel, co-owner of Ruth's Cafe on the city's north side, said. "In the envelope she had, sorry, $1,200 cash. She took her whole stimulus and gave it to use to let us use however we felt we needed to use it."
Schimmel was not expecting the lump sum of money from one of her regular customers.
"I ended up sobbing my eyes with her," Schimmel said. "I couldn't believe she would do something like. It was so kind."
Schimmel split the money between the servers, fulfilling the goal of the customer who wants to remain anonymous.
"I let her know that today and she was very pleased it was helping them because she was very worried about them," Schimmel said.
The customer provided the money to the restaurant on Mother's Day. She was picking up a to-go meal. She told the owner that her mother, who's now dead, was a very giving person so she wanted to do something in the same spirit.
Schimmel said the customer's generosity highlights one of the reasons people get into the restaurant industry, not just the food but also all the connections you make.
"It's all the people you meet, all those families, and all those babies that are born," Schimmel said.
Most days, the cafe is busy but the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to close off the dining area and only to to-go orders.
And while the $1,200 was a nice surprise it was also a reminder of what they're missing.
"That was the hardest part, standing there not being able to hug her," Schimmel said.
Hugging a customer, something Schimmel said she won't take for granted when she can do it again.