SJ restaurant gifts sushi lunches to local Southwest employees impacted by meltdown

Zach Fuentes Image
Saturday, December 31, 2022
SJ restaurant gifts sushi lunches to local Southwest employees
The owner of San Jose sushi restaurants is gifting special lunches to local Southwest employees hard at work during the airline meltdown.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- From being stranded, to having luggage lost indefinitely, travelers have been the most impacted by the Southwest Airlines meltdown.

But one Bay Area restaurant made a huge gesture to recognize the local employees also affected by the issues.

Things are looking more normal at San Jose International, the Bay Area airport that had had the most cancellations.

Still, thousands of travelers and their families are reeling from the impacts, including Randy Musterer.

VIDEO: Southwest CEO: 'Just no way to apologize enough' for disastrous week of flight cancelations

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan said the company has returned to normal operations after a disastrous week of cancelations.

"My parents actually had to drive from the Bay Area down to San Diego," he said, "So I understand the customer perspective."

But Musterer, who owns all three Sushi Confidential restaurants in the South Bay, says he also understood the employee perspective.

"The challenges that they were going through physically and mentally showing up to work every day," he said, "Knowing that they're just gonna get bombarded with a lot more problems."

So he says he decided that he could use his resources to gift the San Jose Southwest employees with a special lunch of sushi and teriyaki.

MORE: Southwest ground workers call out unreasonable demands amid meltdown

"I can't feed millions of people that were the customers," Musterer said, "But I thought, here in San Jose, the employees have always gotten us to our destination safely and with this debacle, how can I just put that smile on their face to make sure that they have a good lunch today?"

Preparations to make more than 1,500 pieces of sushi and teriyaki started late Thursday night and continued into Friday morning.

"Feeding 120 people, we actually split all the prep work and all the cooking and preparing between two locations to allow us to get it done in time," Musterer said.

Friday before noon, he and his team brought the trays of food right to the Southwest employee breakrooms.

VIDEO: Southwest Airlines employee hands out snacks she bought for customers after days of canceled flights

Some have missed out on seeing their loved ones during the holidays, and others are spending money they hadn't budgeted for hotels or rental cars.

Though travelers have suffered because of the Southwest delays and cancellations, some like Alan Wang who flew into San Jose, say they're glad local employees are being recognized.

"That's great," Wang said, "I mean the crews really deserved that, I know that they have been through a lot."

For Musterer, it's not only a way to help these workers get through a rough patch, it's also a way of giving back after his business also faced challenges.

"During the pandemic, a lot of people rushed to restaurants to support restaurants, they came to Sushi Confidential to support us," Musterer said, "A lot of Southwest Airlines employees are our customers and they supported us."

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