Community support pouring in to Zachary’s restaurant

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – A weekend fire closed a beloved Columbus restaurant for at least the next three months and left employees and patrons in shock.

Zachary’s is a fixture downtown and is known for helping the community.

Now, the tables have turned.

Zachary’s and fundraisers have gone hand in hand.

The restaurant has held anywhere between four to six per year.

They’ve helped raise money for families, the humane society, and even other businesses.

Now, the place that’s known for giving back to the community, needs its support.

“We’ve had so many people stop by and ask just what can we do? What can we do to help you? My phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” says Zachary’s owner Doug Pellum.

“We have people passing by bringing us milkshakes and different stuff like that and it’s the weirdest thing because we are the ones that go and do that. We’re the people that load up the car and take whatever we need to take whether it be to families, or restaurants, or to local businesses that need help. We are the ones that do that, so for that to happen back to us, we don’t know how to react,” says Zachary’s employee Katie Newman.

Just hours after an early Sunday morning fire heavily damaged the inside of Zachary’s Restaurant, support from the community its known for helping started pouring in.

“I know there is a GoFundMe account. We’ve had some other people make some donations, so we are doing whatever we can to keep the employees because we know when we open back up, it’s going to be crazy and we want to have the people here and we want to have our staff here. We want to have the people that’s been with us to take care of the people when they do come back in three months”.

Newman is one of about 45 employees who is now without a job.

She’s worked here for two years and has been a part of the many fundraisers the restaurant is known for.

“At the end of the day, I know I’m going to be okay. I know that there are people that love and support me and I really have felt that the past couple of days just from the are you okay text messages, to the friends texting me saying, ‘Hey, come up here and fill out an application, like they know that you’re going to go back to Zachary’s, just give them a two weeks notice.’ That’s all they ask.”

Instead of Newman and other employees serving up lunch on Monday, they were busy scrubbing soot and moving things out of their fire damaged work home.

“A lot of them are coming up here helping out today. They were up here yesterday. They’re cleaning. They’re doing whatever they can, taking memorabilia off the wall, cleaning the memorabilia, trying to keep it. They’re coming in, joining in, knowing we have no income coming in. We have no income coming in for the next three months, so that’s where the money is going to.”

The employees who are now without jobs are also the same ones who are wiping smoke and ash off of Zachary’s well-known memorabilia, which included memories from all of the charity events the restaurant has held.

“They support us and we feel like we should support them when someone needs something. At first, it started with Hayden, when he passed away a couple of years ago. We jumped on board and did a fundraiser and then we realized, hey, we can do something special for people with the venue we have. We’ve been very fortunate to have a place like this.”

Zachary’s 19th anniversary will be on May 9.

The restaurant expects to open its doors in about three months.

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