Struggling Restaurant Owner Helps His Neighbors With Free Sack Lunches, Hot Meals

May 11, 2020, 7:22 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:40 pm

OGDEN, Utah – While many small businesses are working to stay in business, one struggling restaurant owner in Ogden is looking at how he can help out his neighbors at the same time.

Restaurant owner Kayden Petersen-Craig said he knows a lot of people who are struggling due to the pandemic.

Even though things are not ideal, he still wanted to find a way to help.

He decided to ask his customers to help him Pay it Forward.

“My passion is loving others and helping other people,” said Petersen-Craig, owner of Cafe Ville Bella in Ogden.

He was looking for a way to spread that feeling.

He started by giving away sack lunches for kids, at first out of his own pocket.

“My thought is that our community needs to band together and help everybody,” he said.

He continues to give up to 150 lunches a day.

Customers started donating to help.

The restaurant owner kept meeting more people in need, and started to look toward getting them hot meals.

“We started it maybe a week and a half ago, and we have had an amazing turnout,” he said. 

Now, anyone can pay it forward.

Customers buy meals that support Cafe Ville Bella, and a ticket goes in the window.

“There is no criteria you have to meet to be able to get a ticket out of the window,” Petersen-Craig said. “We have a ‘no questions asked’ policy.”

Patrons are doing what they can to keep the list going, including Kathleen Cadman.

“I come here, if not daily, pretty close to daily,” she said.

Cadman is now donating her art to support the cause.

She said she and her husband feel lucky to still have jobs. 

“This way, we get to support not only a local business, which is always awesome, but the community as a whole,” Cadman said.

Petersen-Craig has been doing all of this as his business has been struggling. 

“It really took a hit on us, but my husband and I are passionate about community service, and we were like, ‘If this is going to affect us, we’re going to do what we can to give back to our community.”

He said this way he is not doing it all on his own.

“If we all band together as a community, we’ll get through this,” he said.

Petersen-Craig said he will keep the free sack lunches going at least through the summer, but the pay it forward program will stick around as long as people keep it going.

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Struggling Restaurant Owner Helps His Neighbors With Free Sack Lunches, Hot Meals