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Florida cafe stays afloat during coronavirus pandemic with $40K order

The money paid for sandwiches for hospital staff

One customer at Bills Café in Naples, Florida bought $40,000 worth of sandwiches, and it likely kept the restaurant from closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The money let owner Bill Salley reopen a few weeks after it was forced to close its doors on March 21 and keep his four employees working each day.

"The restaurant industry is very difficult without COVID-19," Salley told FOX Business. "It could very easily have killed me. I could have lasted six weeks, maybe two months."

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The customer, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote a series of four checks made out to the cafe. In exchange for each $10,000 check, Salley was asked to make sandwiches for staff at Naples Community Hospital across the street from the cafe, he said.

"It kept my business afloat," Salley said. "I had 100 people a day before I even unlocked the door."

Naples Community Hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Salley was first approached by the customer at the end of March who worried that the cafe didn't have the financial wherewithal to sustain the impacts of the pandemic, Salley said. It was a fear he shared.

Salley was first handed two checks made out to $1,000 each. One for him and the other to be divided up between his four employees.

Shortly after that check, the customer called back with the proposal to help their neighborhood hospital. Without hesitation, Salley agreed, and by early April, he and his team got to work.

For two months, his team made roughly 100 sandwiches a day Monday through Friday. The sandwiches were carefully wrapped and delivered across the street to be dived up amongst different departments.

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Salley said he would have been making absolutely nothing under the circumstances if it weren't for the kind gesture.

"It literally saved my restaurant," he said.

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