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Local restaurant owners support ‘Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers’ fundraiser

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — People in the restaurant industry have seen some of the biggest impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. Some local restaurants were lucky enough to stay open and provide their carryout services, but others were forced to shut down completely.

WISH-TV’s “Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers” fundraiser in partnership with the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association is trying to help offset the deficit these local businesses are facing.

The Missing Brick is an up-and-coming family-owned pizza spot that’s run by Que Wimberly and her family. The restaurant specializes in creating urban pizza dishes that use ingredients from a collaboration with other brick and mortar restaurants.

Wimberly says even though she’s been fortunate enough to keep things going, it’s been tough to watch other restaurant owners who couldn’t afford to stay open.

“It’s heartbreaking because this is our livelihood,” Wimberly said. “This is what we feed our families on. My business is in our first year. We’re staying open because we really don’t have an option to be in a one-year operation.”

Wimberly says profit margins for most local restaurants aren’t large enough to sustain a shutdown, making the future uncertain for many of the city’s homegrown businesses. Meanwhile she’s grateful they’re surviving and won’t hesitate to help others along the way.

“We’re trying to make it day by day and help support other businesses and help feed some of the frontline workers as well.”

Kristina Mazza, owner of Hoagies and Hops, a place where Hoosiers can get an authentic Philly cheesesteak, says in the first two weeks of the pandemic, the community showed their support in a big way.

“There’s a lot of wonderful people in the city who are calling local restaurants to order food,” she said.

However, she says as the pandemic goes on, things have become more and more challenging.

“We’ve had to cut our hours back, but we’re going day by day,” she said. “We’re kind of pushing out of our comfort zone and trying as many new things as we can to try to stay ahead, move forward and be optimistic.”

Mazza also feels for her friends in the business who are facing even tougher battles than she is.

“It’s very hurtful that we have to go through this right now,” she said. “A lot of my friends in the industry have been affected by it.”

That’s why she believes “Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers” has a chance to make a difference.

“Every little bit that you can help out and give back to the hospitality industry means the world,” she said.

Both owners look forward to the day when they can open their dine-in services to customers again.

“We all need to come back together when this is all over and have a big party,” Mazza said.

In the meantime, they hope Hoosiers will continue to support them until that day comes.

“Definitely visit these local restaurants that are still open and tip well if you can,” Wimberly said.