Donations pour in for Playa Provisions from customers around the world
By Haley Beyer
Though COVID-19 has made running a business a nearly impossible task, Brooke Williamson, winner of “Top Chef” and owner of Playa Provisions in Playa del Rey, and her husband Nick Roberts, have done everything in their power to stay afloat during the pandemic. Playa Provisions was one of four restaurants owned by the couple, but is sadly the last one remaining since COVID-19 occurred. They had over 100 employees and are now down to roughly a dozen.
“Having to make those tough decisions has by far been the hardest part of this past year,” Williamson said.
Now the tables have turned as the community, customers and long-distance fans of the restaurant have found a way to show some appreciation for the couple and their hard-working staff. On Jan. 10, an order came through Playa Provisions’ online system that left the entire kitchen overwhelmed with emotion. It was a donation from a couple who live in Texas that always makes a point to stop by the restaurant whenever they travel to Los Angeles. Since they can’t visit the restaurant now due to COVID-19, they wanted to support Playa Provisions from afar by ordering a breakfast sandwich with no intention of picking it up so that an employee at the restaurant could enjoy a free meal.
“The message and concept of it all was so incredibly sweet and unexpected,” Williamson said. “It was a kind reminder from a guest for us to hold onto the hope for better days and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us restaurant owners and workers.”
Williamson also shared the act of kindness on Instagram to spread the positive vibes and it didn’t take long for the positivity to go viral. They received over 100 donations the next day from people in their local community, out of state and even outside the country. Messages and donations came in from as far away as Canada, Germany and Norway.
“It’s hard to put into words, we were surprised, overwhelmed with gratitude, thankful,” Williamson said. “We are simply just blown away by everyone’s random acts of kindness that allowed us to feed our local heroes and staff.”
The donations have been shared among staff, first responders and guests. Williamson and Roberts were able to supply their employees with meals on the job, post-shift drinks and warm meals to take home to their families. Eventually, they had so many donations pouring in that they were able to do bigger things such as share extra food and drink orders with the Playa del Rey Fire Department and donate more than 150 warm meals to a nearby hospital on the Westside.
Some donations were sent in with a request by the donor to pass items onto the next customer. Whether it was a sandwich, bottle of wine, dessert or a canned cocktail, the next guest who came to the restaurant to pick up their order would be surprised with the donation.
“They were so surprised at the generosity of a stranger, and it’s been a great way for us to engage more with our customers and keep growing the community here,” Williamson said.
From this point, Williamson and her staff plan to continue paying it forward with any donations that come in. Though there were times they feared they might not make it through the week, they know they have the support of the community to help them through.
“There is still hope and there is still kindness in this world,” Williamson said. “The fact that people, let alone strangers, can take the time to be selfless, is very encouraging and uplifting. I’m so grateful for this community and how it has allowed me to play a bigger part in paying it forward. The viral outpouring of love and support from all over the world is unlike anything else I’ve experienced as a chef.”
For more information, visit playaprovisions.com and follow @playaprovisions and @chefbrookew on Instagram.