Balmoral, other Campton Hills restaurants pay it forward during pandemic
Colin Smith, owner of the Balmoral Restaurant in Campton Hills, can remember being hungry as a child in Scotland -- and getting help from strangers.
So when schools and other businesses closed as stay-at-home orders went into effect in mid-March to combat the coronavirus outbreak, Smith knew what to do: Pay it forward.
"I was an orphan and remember people dropping off food all the time," recalled the Campton Hills resident. "I remember being a young child and very hungry. It brought me back."
Smith said he has been donating meals to first responders, health care workers and families in need for about six weeks. For every two meals purchased by customers, Smith's restaurant donates one four-course meal, and Campton Hills police deliver it.
"People are really stepping up, buying five, 10 meals at a time. I'm really impressed by this community," he said. "The profit will come later when I reopen."
Smith said more than 300 Scottish meals from the Balmoral, 40W099 Route 64, have been donated, and he has enough money to do this for six more weeks. Beginning today, for every three meals purchased, his restaurant will donate one to someone in need.
Police Chief Steven Millar said his department reached out to help after hearing about a family of five forced to split two bologna sandwiches as their collective daily meal. Millar said the department had delivered gift cards and groceries to families before connecting with Smith.
"We come across people who are in need. Even though Campton Hills is pretty affluent, there's a lot of families hurting," Millar said. "A lot of them are really proud people, and they don't want to ask for help."
Other restaurants in town are also helping out.
For the past three weeks, Chime & Stave Kitchen & Bar, 40W188 Campton Crossings, has worked with Millar to donate meals and food to two or three families, said Christine Jurczyk, who owns the restaurant with husband, Richard. Head chef Enzo Cullotta works with Millar to create a menu.
"We're here for the community," she said. "We're going to keep this going as long as possible."
Kim Weiss, manager at Old Towne Pub and Eatery, 40W290 La Fox Road, said a resident whose wife teaches in St. Charles Unit School District 303 reached out to the pub staff about buying $1,000 worth of $50 pub gift cards that residents can use in the future for a meal or now to "buy" items from the pub's curbside menu, which includes basics such as milk and eggs.
Weiss used social media to get more donations and worked to deliver the cards to District 303 officials who are distributing them to families in need. For every $200 people spent at Old Towne, the pub is donating a $50 gift card for District 303 to pass along.