Don and Rhonda Fuller with Fuller Realty recognize the devastating impact restaurant closures will have on servers, bartenders, cooks and other employees and understand simply leaving a bigger tip won’t sustain these people and their families in the long-term.

To pay it forward, Fuller Realty paid part of Oskar’s Café’s power bill, and contributed money to help offset the income employees may be losing. Don’s hope is this will kick-start the good deed and others will follow suit.

“Basically to get things rolling, we picked Oskar’s because they’re our neighbors, to get everyone to quit waiting around and start helping other businesses,” Fuller said. “I’d love to help all of them but I had to start somewhere.”

Fuller said he urges other people to adopt these servers and cooks and financially aid local businesses that will take a hit during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I went back to some words I had on my heart from the Sea of Galilee,” Fuller said. “It’s time for me to put a fish in the basket and let God take it, and if we get enough people to put a fish in the basket we could feed everyone on the shores of Lake Martin.”

In turn, Oskar’s owner Kent Albertson plans to pay it forward and split the Fullers’ donation with his neighboring restaurants, Table 34, Niffer’s at the Lake and Poplar Dawgs.

“We are all in this together,” Albertson said.  

Copper’s Grill in StillWaters is taking measures to assist its employees in the best way it sees fit. Management implemented a temporary layoff for employees it couldn’t keep on staff. These workers can file an expedited unemployment claim and will be hired back once the restaurant receives the all-clear from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Copper’s retained four hourly employees, plus food and beverage manager Chris Gibson and chef Josh Jordan to continue delivery, curbside and takeout orders.

Even hourly workers can file for partial unemployment while they’re still working because they will be losing income in terms of tips.

“We have a plan in place to help our employees both short and long term,” Gibson said. “We knew this was coming, so we had all the paperwork they would need ready to pass out to them when we got the news.”

Copper’s was operating business as usual until Gov. Kay Ivey restricted patrons from dining in establishments as of 5 p.m. Thursday.  

It had implemented delivery within StillWaters as well, which it will continue, in addition to curbside pickup and takeout. Patrons can purchase unopened bottles of wine, liquor and beer to go as well. Copper’s hours will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday, 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

“At the end of the day it’s still about safety and we’re doing everything we can to stay ahead of cleanliness and safety,” Gibson said. “We’ve never seen something like this before, so we’re brainstorming all ideas for what could happen in the future.”

It’s not just the restaurant industry that is in panic mode as hairdressers, retail stores, contract workers, janitors, those self-employed and more are all seeing their money slowly dwindle.

“Even just closing for a week affects everyone in a business from the bottom all the way to the owner,” Gibson said. “I overheard that it’s possible up to 40% of small businesses might not be able to reopen after this.”

Self-employed artist Annie Bartol brainstormed a creative way to drum up new business. In the last few days, she’s made the subjects of her ever-cheerful and vibrant paintings rolls of toilet paper and Germ-X.

“I’ve actually gotten a few orders for these,” Bartol said. “I hate to say I’m playing off the misfortune of the world but I’m trying to see the bright side of things.”

While orders for Bartol’s Erskine leather line and larger commission pieces may be momentarily paused she found a roundabout way to speak to the community’s shared relevance.

“I’m considered a luxury business, so unfortunately I’m not selling big pieces but I found a way to put my work out there that’s economical and also positive,” Bartol said.

Because she typically meets with clients face to face and interacts with the public to promote her products, Bartol, like other work-at-home artists, is struggling to make new orders.

These brightly colored paintings are custom-ordered, so no two are the same.

“I’m just trying to paint happy things and put a smile on your face when otherwise things might be negative,” Bartol said. “I’m putting a positive spin on a negative situation.”

Amy Passaretti is the editor of Lake Martin Living and Elmore County Living.