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'I just feel very helpless' | Restaurant owner aids laid-off employees

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 4/6/2020 Matt Gregory

The coronavirus impact on restaurants has been devastating. Most of the district’s restaurants have either closed, or are reduced to take-out/delivery menus.

While the closings are meant to be temporary, many restaurant owners aren’t sure if they'll open again.

One restaurant owner, Boby Pradachith, understands the future may be uncertain, but his immediate concern has been his employees, especially those he has had to lay off.

"At some point, I just feel very helpless," Pradachith said.

Pradachith and his family own 14th Street's Thip Khao, and three other restaurants in D.C. and Northern Virginia.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, they've been forced to close all the restaurants and lay off dozens of employees.

"It was a mixed feeling of they knew it was going to happen, and they were thankful in certain ways," Pradachith said.

They are thankful for what Pradachith and his family have done for them. Like many local restaurant owners, he sees their employees as an extension of their families.

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The day their extended family joined more than 7 million Americans in unemployment, the owners brought them back to the restaurants to give them the food from the cupboards and pantries.

"We had various tables, and we laid out everything like raw meats, fish produce, herbs," Pradachith said. "We also gave them things like toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning solutions."

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Still, they wanted to help more.

Until they can reopen and rehire, Pradachith and his family have helped their former employees apply for unemployment.

"Because we know that the unemployment is very inconsistent, it’s very challenging," Pradachith said.

The next challenge for Pradachith, and the other D.C. restaurant owners is to weather this financial storm until the pandemic passes

"So, we are just finding ways to be able to stay alive," Pradachith said.

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