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Paying it forward: Struggling restaurants serving up kindness

Restaurants are finding creative ways to pay it forward and the community is joining the generous acts.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, California — There is no doubt restaurants struggled this year, many in the industry lost their job and found themselves struggling to put food on their own tables.

But San Diego County eateries are finding ways to still serve up kindness.

At Players Sports Bar and Grill in Poway the dining area is empty but their hearts are full this season cooking up free meals.

“At the end of the day we are in this together we need to turn around and help each other and put our best foot forward and help the community,” said George Hicks Jr., Players manager.

Featured dishes are written on heart-shaped notes on a table by the door and that’s the payment, no questions asked. A $4 donation will pay for a takeout meal and already there’s enough to feed 150 people.

“We've had a few people claim but we were definitely looking to help anybody who is in need. Today, just the first day, we've already had $600 donated,” said Hicks Jr.

Credit: KFMB

The restaurant's generosity is spreading cheer across the county.

“We just wanted to anonymously donate dinner,” said Chris Ritenour, Southern Comfort Kitchen co-owner.

The South Mission Beach restaurant opened in the middle of the pandemic. Southern Comfort Kitchen posted to Nextdoor asking if there was a family who needed a free meal. So many families were in need, they put a tree outside of their storefront and attached tags with names and items in need.

“People offered to pay someone's rent for a year or electric bills,” said Shy Sontze, Southern Comfort Kitchen co-owner.

That’s $10,000 in rent. A little girl received more than a bicycle but also a helmet and lessons, $1,000 was Venmoed, bags filled. wrapped presents were donated.

“This community, every single person that called and said 'I'm going to this', they did that tenfold,” said Ritenour.

Credit: Nextdoor

In North County, Miss Kim’s by That Boy Good BBQ in Oceanside is usually closed on Christmas day but this year they’ll be cooking up free meals for those in need. Word traveled fast and there’s been an outpouring of community support. Even Santa who will be there at a safe distance started a GoFundMe.

“I'm really looking forward to this. I can't think of a better way to spend Christmas,” said Kim Millwood, Miss Kim’s by That Boy Good co-owner.

Credit: Miss Kim's by That Boy Good BBQ

Despite restaurants hurting so much right now, they are still able to serve up kindness.

“From a financial standpoint, it's something we couldn't afford to do but from a neighborly, spiritual standpoint we couldn't afford not to do this,” said Mark Millwood, Miss Kim’s by That Boy Good co-owner.

Player’s Sports Bar & Grill is located in Poway at 13437 Community Road.

Southern Comfort Kitchen is located in South Mission Beach at 2912 Mission Boulevard.

Miss Kim’s by That Boy Good BBQ in Oceanside is located at 207 N. Coast Hwy.