KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- A small local diner hurting from the pandemic is getting some big help after its owners received a surprise phone call from the founder of Barstool Sports.
Nick’s Family Restaurant has been in Kingsport since 1938. But manger Greg Saunders said the COVID-19 pandemic has had them watching every penny.
“Our customers, we were struggling, they were coming two or three times a day just to make sure they supported the local business,” Saunders said.
Enter digital media giant Barstool Sports – whose newly established Barstool Fund is raising millions of dollars to help small businesses hit hard by COVID-19. On Thursday, the program’s website listed 190 small businesses it had supported.
Saunders said Nick’s restaurant had nothing to lose by applying. Three weeks later, he’s in shock.
“We were number 170 out of over 900,000 entries,” said Saunders.
When applying for the program, Nick’s co-owner Victoria Harville recorded a video of herself, explaining why she and her customers loved the restaurant.
After sending the video to Barstool, Victoria and her husband, Jaron, got a surprise FaceTime call from Dave Portnoy, the company’s founder and president.
“Did you really call me?” Victoria can be heard asking in a video posted to the Barstool Fund’s Twitter.
“I’m really calling you,” Portnoy says. “We want to help. We got your story on Nick’s… each month we’ll just reach out, make sure you guys are alright until you you can go back to the normal way of doing things.”
“They’re actually helping us out for around three months. So it’s awesome. It will help us be able to keep all our employees and maybe even hire some more,” Victoria told News Channel 11.
Though the last year has been tough, Nick’s has donated meals to hospital workers. They also currently deliver 20 meals per day for people who can’t leave their homes due to COVID-19 putting them at high risk.
“Hopefully it’s a little bit of karma that comes back to you. That if you reach out and help others, then things will be good to you,” said Saunders.