HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Businesses and restaurants have had to make a lot of adjustments to adhere to the safety guidelines brought by the pandemic. Some of those changes can really add up at the bottom line. One local restaurant says they were happy to see their customers care enough to try to help in any little way they can.
Many people feel safer dining outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic. But right now temperatures are dropping! One Huntsville restaurant has made accommodations to try to make customers feel safe and warm when eating outside. But, they were in for a big surprise when one customer anonymously left behind a little something to say thank you.
Suwit Phornroekngam is the owner of Phuket Thai Restaurant in Huntsville. He says he was shocked when he found a total of seven dollars neatly folded and tucked into the restaurant’s blanket laundry basket. Phornroekngam says, "It’s just a gesture of kindness showing-- during this season of giving, sharing and -- hope I guess.” He adds, “At first, we thought it was left unintentionally… But when we think about it, we felt like ‘Oh, they probably wanted to leave us seven dollars as a gratuity as a tip.'”
But, Suwit and the staff came to realize this was a kind gesture to help with the laundering costs of the blankets.
Phuket is not open for indoor dining.
Phornroekngam explains, “We feel like it’s not right. Especially during this time…”
They do allow outdoor dining and carry out. But, with temperatures low in the winter, the restaurant has provided ways to stay warm with heaters and freshly-laundered blankets for customers. But, excess costs have started to add up. Phornroekngam tells us, “The heaters, the propane gas. And it’s quite expensive for the propane gas because we have to change the tanks like every two to three days.”
The anonymous donation means more than that mystery customer may know. Phornroekngam says, “During this time, we need hope and kindness and positive thinking and positive thought. I feel like that small amount of money kind of boosted the morale of our staff.”
The restaurant could increase profits by choosing to reopen indoor dining. But, Suwit Phornroekngam says he’s chosen to keep the dining room closed for a number of reasons. Most importantly, safety. Even if it costs him a bit extra. Phornroekngam tells our reporter, “You can have livelihood if you have life. But, you can’t have a livelihood if you don’t have life. So, I believe, between the two, life has to come first. Health has to come first.”
He says thank you to the customer who left the money and has a message for people in the community. Phornroekngam says, “All the restaurants, any business actually, just go and support them as much as you can so hopefully in the next 60 or 90 days, maybe in the spring we can get through this all together and get back to normal-- again.”