Good Neighbors

Café Owner Starts Program To Buy Meals For Local Healthcare Workers

When he was forced to close his restaurant due to the coronavirus, the community rallied to help his business stay afloat - now they're helping others, too!

As restaurants remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, some are coming up with ways to stay in business while also giving back to their communities.

Tootsie's, an Italian-style sandwich shop in Palo Alto, CA, recently started a program to get meals to healthcare workers at nearby hospitals.

Tootsie's at The Barn in Palo Alto, CA has remained open for take-out and delivery orders. Sparkt

Rocco Scordella is the owner of both Tootsie's at the Stanford Barn and another restaurant in the area called 'Vina.' While Scordella decided to close Vina completely during the crisis, he kept Tootsie's open for take-out and delivery to serve local hospital workers.

"Two of our guests reached out," Scordella told KRON-4. "They were very sad that we were closing Vina and they said, 'Hey how can we help?' I said you know we have Tootsies open so we can do catering, we can do all sorts of stuff."

So, with the help of the community, Scordella came up with the "Adopt a Doc or Nurse" program as a way for people to purchase meals for local ER and ICU staffs who are working around the clock to care for patients with the virus.

Rocco Scordella is the owner and head chef of Tootsie's Barn and Vino Enoteca in Palo Alto, CA. @Scordella

Community member and Tootsie's regular Brian O'Malley was one of the first to jump on board with the program.

"We decided to work with him and sponsor the first week of meals for 50 people," O'malley said. "For breakfast and lunch, and then put the word out and it's been really exciting not just seeing people jump on the band wagon and supporting Tootsies, but also trying to do something similar in their own area."

After starting Adopt a Doc or Nurse about two weeks ago, Scordella is gearing up to prepare and delivery 2,000 meals for medical employees at Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital next week.

Scordella started the Adopt A Doc or Nurse program to help feed local hospital workers. @Scordella

Scordella has even been able to bring back a few of his staff members to help with the orders.

"It's amazing. I think the community understands how important restaurants are," Scordella said.

"They're sad to see people getting laid off and losing their job and I think it's helping each other. It's really amazing to me. It's touching. I was expecting some orders but not 2,000."

Scordella says that people all over the country have reached out about starting their own Adopt a Doc or Nurse programs. While he's happy that other folks are catching on and want to help their communities, he says the most important thing is keeping the workers fulfilling the orders safe.

"Make sure they have a mask, make sure they're healthy," Scordella said in a recent Facebook video. "Don't cram a kitchen with 20 people in it, then they're not safe."

What an awesome way to keep a small business going while helping those who are fighting the virus on the front lines. Hopefully more restaurants will start Adopt a Doc or Nurse programs soon!

The Adopt a Doc or Nurse program has already provided over 2K meals for staffs at Stanford Hospital. @Scordella

How can you start something good?

You can reach out to Tootsie's about sponsoring meals by emailing Choose the amount of food and the department you would like the order to go to and they'll do the rest.

Another way you can support restaurants during the closures is to order take-out or purchase a gift card to use once they re-open. *P.F. Chang's recently announced that they'll be donating 15% of every gift card that's purchased to a fund that helps furloughed restaurant workers to pay their bills.

Let's #StartSomethingGood together!

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