Friends, community rally around Cafe 212 owners

TUPELO – Sometimes it takes a disaster to find out who your real friends are.
Amanda and Jason Hayden, owners of Cafe 212, recently found out they have many.
In anticipation of GumTree Festival weekend, the couple stocked up on meats, cheeses and breads for their downtown restaurant.
The Sunday the festival ended, Jason Hayden ran by the cafe to check on things and found that a breaker had tripped, leaving no electricity going to the main refrigerator.
“When he turned the breaker back on, smoke started coming out of the fridge. It was done,” said Amanda Hayden. “It was 90 degrees in the refrigerator, so everything had to be thrown out. Everything went into the dumpster.”
For the next two days, the cafe had to be closed while the couple found a new refrigerator and dismantled part of the restaurant to get the old fridge out and the new one in.
Total costs: $3,000 for the fridge, $1,000 worth of food and two days of lost business.
“It was a pretty hard hit for us,” Amanda Hayden said.
And then, their friends found out what happened.
Margaret Buell, a part-time employee, started a raffle for a purse she sells for Ghana Goods, with the $5 ticket cost going back to the Haydens.
Offers began to pour in from local businesses.
“Jason Palmer at Palmer’s Supermarket offered for us to come to his store and get whatever we needed to get back open,” said Jason Hayden. “Vaz Vanelli offered us his refrigerator if we needed it.”
Without the Haydens’ knowledge, Jason McAnally, a friend from Origins church, started a Facebook page called “We Love Cafe 212,” asking for donations in any amount for the restaurant.
“When the tornadoes hit in April, we started doing a lot of work for the tornado victims,” Amanda Hayden said. “That’s why Jason wanted to help us. Because we’d been helping others.”
According to Jason McAnally’s post on Facebook, the Haydens took sandwiches from the cafe to the tornado victims waiting in emergency rooms the night the storms hit. They also organized a drive for water and other items to be delivered to Smithville victims.
“Seeing this support for us – in the wake of what others in the state are going through now – has really lifted our spirits,” Amanda Hayden said. “It’s going to take a little while to get back, but we’re getting there. People willing to lend a hand has made all the difference in the world.”

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal