'A sense of pride'

Special to the Register

A graphic depicting the restaurants this week.

Starting Monday, community members and local business owners are coming together to back an initiative to help Madison County restaurants stay afloat.

In response to the restrictions imposed by Gov. Andy Beshear regarding indoor food service, schools and mass gatherings, many in Madison County have rallied together to show support for the community in a time of hardship.

Gus LaFontaine, a small business owner himself, heard of the shutdown and began to think of how he could help.

"It was a pretty quick thought after the restrictions were announced and I felt deeply for other small business owners," he said.

From there, LaFontaine jumped onto the Madison County Foodies Facebook page, which exists solely to encourage local support of county restaurants and food trucks since the pandemic began.

Here, he engaged with local business owners and customers to see if they would be interested in an initiative to encourage residents to go to one-or-two local places a day, each day, throughout the week.

"With 11,000 people on the page, I thought, 'Let's mobilize the page and members to direct traffic to some of these places to show support," he told The Register.

"Nine restaurants expressed interest and a lot of you expressed enthusiasm to support them," he said in a Facebook post.

Monday through Friday, the foodies group will feature two different restaurants per day for people to order pickup or delivery.

"The goal is to show our support to them by dining with them on their day. There's a couple restaurants each day for variety," he said.

The week began by featuring home cooking from Jackson's Restaurant on Third Street and Brady's Asian Fusion on Eastern Bypass.

Tuesday will feature Brady's Sushi and Hibachi, and Side Porch Bakery and Cafe in Waco, Straight from Texas BBQ and Madison Gardens on Wednesday, Big City Pizza and Craft Restaurant and Artistry on Thursday and Vintage 18 on Friday.

LaFontaine said he worked with local owners to plan ahead for a day that would work best to for them and to prepare for an influx of business.

Ashley Gallaher, owner of Craft, has been doing just that.

In order to prepare for their designated day on Thursday, Gallaher said her staff has been prepping food, making sure they are fully staffed, and accommodating to-go equipment such as more heat lamps.

"We have done as much as we can do on a limited budget and space to make the process easy for everyone," she said.

Gallaher said, without the work and support of the community, and those in the foodies group, the past couple of weeks would not be as good as they have for Craft -- which opened five weeks before the pandemic.

"If you aren't taking advantage of community help right now, you should be, because everyone will need help," she said, "This is not going to be over for a while."

In addition, LaFontaine partnered with Colonel Delivery, who will deliver the restaurant-of-the-days orders for free with promo codes.

"I'm a small business person and I think I can offer this perspective: the business of one day of increased traffic isn't going to save any of these restaurants. That's not the point," he wrote on Facebook. "When your back is against the wall and you're trying to survive you cling to any positive you can find. That's what this effort can provide to these restaurants; an opportunity to see that our community has their back. That we care for them and want to see them succeed. I'm excited to participate with you to show them our support."

Already, LaFontaine stated other restaurants -- including some in Berea -- have reached out to be included in upcoming weeks.

"There is a real sense of pride seeing people come together to help other people out," LaFontaine said. "It makes me proud to be in a community that wants to support everyone else."

Any restaurant interested in getting involved the following week can fill out this Google form.

https://forms.gle/b7kck9yci67W31dC7

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