On March 19, one of Hopkinsville’s hottest new restaurants, The Mixer, received a large shipment of toilet paper. Any other time the shipment would have been an ordinary delivery, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, toilet paper in Christian County has become scarce.
The shipment gave owners Heather and Graham Dawson an idea to make people laugh amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
After mandates from Gov. Andy Beshear, The Mixer — and every other restaurant in Kentucky — had to shift its service from in-store to curbside. With the shift to curbside delivery, the restaurant was forced to lay off staff.
“We were in here, coming up with what we were going to do moving forward,” Heather said. “I was just looking at this massive box of toilet paper.”
Initially, she joked that at least the restaurant had toilet paper, but then the Dawsons came up with the idea to give out a roll with every order over $20.
The Dawsons’ idea went viral. Social media and news accounts shared The Mixer’s toilet paper giveaway all over the world.
It wasn’t long before the couple realized that they could turn that social media success into a way to help their employees.
“We opened with 26 staff members,” Graham said. “I think we’re sitting at six now.”
Heather added that those six staff members are part time at the moment.
The Dawsons launched the hashtag #tpthemixer. Then, they began to sell black T-shirts with The Mixer’s logo and #tpthemixer on them.
All proceeds from each shirt sold will go directly to the restaurant’s employees who are currently out of work.
Heather and Graham helped each of the restaurant’s employees to file for unemployment after the layoffs.
“We knew that the governor had waived the waiting period for that,” Graham said.
He added they have successfully filed for unemployment through the governor’s expanded unemployment due to COVID-19, but unemployment doesn’t fully cover the employees’ expenses.
Heather said some of their employees have been friends for at least 10 years. The others have become family over the months that the restaurant has been open.
“In the restaurant business you become very tight,” she said. “Our staff is amazing.”
Heather said that she has had numerous customers pull her aside and tell her that the staff was amazing.
“To be a business owner and to have employees that care so much about you and your business,” she said. “It’s the biggest blessing ever.
“If there’s anything we can do to help them … we want to do that because we love them. The took a risk on us and they believed in us. So we’re continuing to show them that we believe in them and that we’ll get through this.”
Shirts can be found at https://williamsadco.com/the-mixer-employee-fundraiser/. Each shirt is $25. If you would like to make a donation to The Mixer employees, contact the restaurant on Facebook.
Reach Jon Russelburg at 270-887-3241 or firstname.lastname@example.org