Anonymous donor gives one Naples cafe $40K to stay open

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Bill’s Cafe in Naples probably wouldn’t be open right now if it weren’t for the generosity of an anonymous donor.

One Naples resident, who wants to stay anonymous, gave the cafe about $40,000 throughout the coronavirus pandemic to help Bill’s keep the doors open.

“We’re not the million-dollar restaurant on fifth or third but I’m one of the highest-rated restaurants,” said Bill Salley, owner of Bill’s Cafe.

The generous donation was all a part of a sort of pay-it-forward from one of his breakfast regulars. “And the last day I was open before they forced us to close because of the COVID situation and he goes “Bill I’d like to talk to you”,” Salley said.

“He says listen I have two envelopes for for you, one for your help..and It was so nice and kind of him…. but that probably wouldn’t have saved me…it was a nice chunk of money in that but not enough to make a difference,” he said.

Salley said, “‘a week later he calls me up and tells me, Bill, would you be interested in sending a hundred sandwiches a day across the street to Naples community hospital” and “before he even finished, I said I’m in!”

The customer was paying full price for those sandwiches so the hospital employees got them for free.

The restaurant owner said, ” I was worried about my employees..” One of whom is server Andrea Gianello.

“That last day of work, we weren’t planning on coming back until everything reopened,” said Gianello.

But Gianello is grateful that someone truly wanted to help. “It felt good that someone genuinely cared about the community to come out and help… and help the nurses and the doctors.”

As a glass half full kind of guy, Salley figured things would work out but he’s certainly glad that they have. “This definitely could have put me under,” he said, but, “as it worked out, it literally saved my cafe.”

And Gianello knows that this restaurant was one of the lucky ones. “‘We are one that did get saved but there are so many others in Naples that are going under right now just because they can’t keep up,” she said.


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