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Barstool Fund surprises another CT business with financial relief

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    WALLINGFORD, Connecticut (WFSB) — So many businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, restaurants in particular, but now, one restaurant in Wallingford is getting some unexpected help from the Barstool Fund that will help them keep their doors open.

Laskara is a Mediterranean restaurant in Wallingford.

With the pandemic and slowed business, they weren’t sure if the restaurant would survive, but one of the owners heard about the Barstool Fund, which donates money to save small businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

She emailed them an emotional plea for help and they came to her rescue.

“We just need some help. I just think it is amazing what you are doing for us, these little people that truly have the passion for these businesses. We are not money hungry. We have the passion for food, we have the passion of service, of love, and community, our staff, and if you could help us, just a little bit, I don’t even know the appreciation that we would have for you,” Maria Riopel, co-owner of Laskara, stated.

This is the video Maria Riopel submitted to the Barstool Fund.

It was created by Dave Portnoy, founder of an online sports website.

He’s been raising money during the pandemic to help small businesses struggling to stay open.

He watched Maria’s video and FaceTimed her to tell her she was being given $17,000 to stay afloat.

“We read the story, saw the, obviously, the video and it’s a no brainer that we want to help,” said Portnoy.

“Thank you so much,” says Riopel.

“You’re welcome,” said Portnoy.

“I cant wait to tell my mom. I didn’t even tell her about this fund, because I didn’t want to get her hopes up that anybody was going to help us,” continued Riopel.

Laskara’s has been in business for twenty-one years.

It was started by Maria’s late dad and her mother, Jenny.

Maria and her mom have been taking no salary, but continue to pay staff to keep the restaurant afloat and keep her dad’s legacy alive.

This is the moment she told her mom they got the money.

“I just got off the phone and he is going to help us mom,” explained Maria.

“Somebody’s really going to help us?” asked Jenny.

“Yes, really,” Maria said.

Maria says she is beyond grateful and that without Dave Portnoy’s Barstool Fund, her restaurant might have gone under.

“He is doing something that nobody else stepped up to do. He is letting the little people be seen and he is really saving lives right now,” added Maria.

So far, the Barstool Fund has helped sixty-five small businesses.

They have raised over $17 million and are trying to help as many as they can.

The one requirement is that the businesses still need to be keeping their employees on the payroll.

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