Stepping up for the community during the pandemic

The Big Tipper at Coaches Bar & Grill
Like most big news these days, the announcement came courtesy of Twitter. On March 15, just a day before all restaurants and bars temporarily shuttered due to the coronavirus, Coaches Bar & Grill tweeted a customer’s receipt. The bill came to $29.75, but scribbled on the line reading “Tip” was a stunning figure: $2,500, accompanied by a request to split the money among workers at the Bethel Road watering hole. The big tipper has remained anonymous, but we can safely say that he or she cared enough about Coaches employees to help them stay solvent during these difficult times.

Curbside Concerts
Don’t let anyone tell you that live music is on hold in Columbus. Curbside Concerts—presented by the Columbus Foundation and Can’t Stop Columbus—fields requests from area seniors for local musicians, who show up in a pickup truck to perform in their guests’ driveway or an otherwise safe social distance. The ingenious idea is a win-win for the musicians (who are compensated for their efforts) and for the audiences, who get a taste of real, live performances during these strange times.

When the pandemic hammered their restaurants in March, veteran chefs Sangeeta Lakhani and Matthew Heaggans decided to do what they do best: feed people. The pair concocted an idea to offer free meals daily to unemployed hospitality workers. Joined by Bake Me Happy co-owner Letha Pugh, industry veteran Reed Woogerd and chef Catie Randazzo, they founded their nonprofit, Service!, in late March. By mid-May, the organization had distributed more than 8,000 meals. The pandemic has forced the chefs to make tough personal decisions as well. Heaggans has left Ambrose and Eve, the restaurant he co-founded with Randazzo, and Lakhani has decided to sell The Table, the Short North restaurant she co-founded.

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Anita Gastaldo
Thanks to proactive planning and a devoted customer base, Anita Gastaldo, owner of Sew to Speak, has donated more than 1,000 masks to health care workers in Central Ohio. Gastaldo began encouraging her customers to make masks not long after Gov. Mike DeWine issued the stay-at-home order. Sew to Speak’s doors may have closed (temporarily), but that didn’t stop its customers from showing the Worthington business major love while supporting Gastaldo’s goal to get masks in the hands of those who need them most. March was the store’s best sales month in its 12-year history, thanks to the heavy discounts Gastaldo offered on mask-making supplies. “I’m not surprised at my customers,” she says. “They’re such wonderful, giving people.”

Chris Spielman
The former Ohio State star raised $40,000 for Covid-19 relief during a monthlong eBay auction of memorabilia from his college and NFL days. Though Spielman wasn’t the only ex-Buckeye to step up during the pandemic—others include Denzel Ward, who picked up the expenses of 21 unemployed service workers and small business owners, and Sam Hubbard, who led a campaign that raised nearly $90,000 for the Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati—the ex-linebacker does get bonus points for also keeping us entertained while in quarantine. In a series of tongue-in-cheek online videos filmed inside his Upper Arlington home, Spielman teaches football fundamentals with the help of his daughters, his wife and the occasional odd prop (a roll of toilet paper in a clip about the art of stripping a football).