Coronavirus kindness: Sonoma County business supports local restaurants by purchasing employees free lunches

SEBASTOPOL, Calif. (KGO) -- We've heard a lot in recent weeks about all the ways restaurants are trying to generate business and jobs by staying open. In Sebastopol, Sonoma County, we found a different take in the form of a concerted effort by customers.

It begins at the Sebastopol Hardware Center, where for whatever you need, Christy Simmons can point you there.

"Um, aisle four?" she said.

After 15 years, here, she has a reputation.

"I get called a guru and walking encyclopedia," said Simmons, who used to own a handyman business.

"She's the go-to, like a Swiss army knife," described Doug Bishop, one of the store's owners.

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So it's no wonder that when Jamilah Nixon parked her food truck outside, Simmons' bosses felt generous and bought her lunch.

"I'll take the charlie hustle slider?" she ordered. But there is more to this. Her employers have bought lunch for a different employee ever day, recently, and all because of COVID-19.

"It's a win, win, win, win," added co-owner Dan Allingham. Both bosses describe the effort as part of a greater cause.

"The economy of it is we need these restaurants for our economy to survive," explained Doug Bishop.

"Every single customer does make a difference," added Jamilah Nixon in her food truck.

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The program started 11 days ago. It's about more than just one hardware store and food truck. The idea - to benefit a pool of 1,000 Sebastopol and many other eateries from the visits of those 1,000 employees.

Mambos Pizza received one of the first orders.

Businesses like Weeks Drilling and Pump Company have taken to ordering lunch in for their large staff, once a week.

"Are you going to spoil your employees?" we asked Kathryn Daniels, who runs human resources.

"Spoiling them? That's a good thing," she replied.

RELATED: Coronavirus Help: San Mateo company launches free takeout system to support struggling eateries

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