GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) – The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged restaurants across the state and the nation, closing many that will never reopen or are hanging on by a thread.
Last Tuesday, that thread broke for the Café Creekside in Gahanna, at least for a moment.
“My little world fell apart in about 20 minutes,” said Chris Katanyuta, who was a waitress before buying Café Creekside in 2007.
In those 20 minutes, two officers walked in with a sign, ordering the restaurant to stop serving until it could pay $1,700 of back taxes.
“They said if she was going to continue cooking for anyone that wasn’t already in the dining room, they would come back with a warrant for her arrest,” waitress Victoria remembers.
“It was my fault,” Katanyuta said. “COVID has been hard on everyone and I’ve been struggling to pay everybody on time.”
“Can you imagine this place shutting down?,” I asked “No!”
This is Rob. He wasn’t here that day, which is rare. He just got a bunch of texts.
“All they were saying, ‘was it you,’ and of course I had no idea what they were talking about,” Rob said.
They were talking about a regular customer who walked in after the officers talked to Katanyuta and went directly to the tax office and paid the $1,700.
That anonymous customer does have a name, but he doesn’t want this to be about him.
“It was the right thing to do,” he said as he began to cry.
It’s about guys like Mike, a retired Columbus Police officer. And it’s about Meghan, Mike’s daughter. Neither of whom works at the café. Meghan helped her parents and Rob set up a GoFundMe account because Katanyuta has more past due bills.
“If in this pandemic, if it (the café) were lost, it would be like the death of a family member,” Mike said.
“I’m actually about to leave to go into the health care field,” Victoria shares as she begins to cry. “And I just couldn’t leave knowing there might not be servers.”
You can feel, and taste, it here. Almost everything is cooked from scratch.
“It’s, it’s overwhelming, completely overwhelming that people care that much, completely overwhelming,” Katanyuta said as she got choked up.
Cheers, Chris! From the guy with no name. Who practices what he preached to his children as he put them on the school bus.
“Share a smile, make a new friend and help somebody out.” the anonymous donor said. “
That’s the kind of place Café Creekside is: Where everybody knows… we really are all in this together.