Billy Bricks in Elgin leading charge for donations to first responders
Billy Bricks Wood Fired Pizza restaurants across the suburbs have delivered more than 1,000 donated meals to first responders, and the Elgin location has been leading the charge.
"Feed the Front Lines: Bag Lunch" consists of donating $10 for an individual lunch, which the restaurants match with another lunch and deliver to nearby hospitals, fire departments and police departments.
The idea came from the Elgin restaurant, responsible for the delivery of more than 300 donated meals, said Bob Webster, co-owner of the Elgin location, which is the only Billy Bricks franchise. Company-owned locations are in West Dundee, Wheaton, Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Mount Prospect and Oak Park.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused business to decline by 65% in Elgin, Webster said. Ten employees were furloughed with four remaining, he said.
"Liquor sales have completely diminished to zero. The carryout itself has been supportive, but it's just not like being open."
Still, the restaurant loves being part of the Elgin community and is committed to continuing to match customers' donations, said Webster.
"As long as the will of God is giving us blessings, and I can still eat and everybody that works for me that's left can still eat, I will donate what I can," he said.
Webster joined the Elgin restaurant in August when former co-owner Frank Sibr died. The other two co-owners are Phil Lencioni and Tony Perez.
The donation idea came after an ICU nurse picked up food in late March and shared the difficulties of fighting the new coronavirus while living in a hotel room so as to not put her family at risk, Webster said.
"We were all teary eyed. We (restaurant owners) all got together and said, 'We're doing it,'" he said of the initiative for first responders.
The community has been wonderfully supportive, Webster said. The Realtor Association of the Fox Valley donated 50 meals last week for Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, which turned into a donation of 100 meals with the restaurant's match.
The Elgin restaurant is now collecting donations to deliver food Thursday to Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin. Visit brickswoodfiredpizza.com for more information.
Webster said he's applied for economic assistance for the restaurant, including the state's hospitality emergency grant, the federal paycheck protection program, a loan from the Small Business Association and loans from two lenders, but he hasn't heard anything back.
Fortunately, the landlord is being helpful and family members are stepping in to help with operations, he said.