Patricia Prosen is a single mother of two, a cancer survivor, and the owner of Que Rico Mexican Restaurant in Lakeview, but this holiday season she's getting a helping hand from an internet-fueled restaurant fund spearheaded by Barstool Sports.
“Que Rico is not only a restaurant. Que Rico is my home,” said Prosen in a video. “I’m sorry I’m going to get so emotional, but this is my home. My employees are not just employees—my employees are my family.”
Prosen shared her struggles as a small business owner during a pandemic in a two-minute video posted online. In the video she introduced her longtime staff, including her daughter Isabella.
“If this restaurant was taken away from me I don't know what I would do with my life,” said Isbaella Tapia, who is a waitress at the restaurant.
The video was part of a submission to The Barstool Fund. Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports launched the campaign to help small business owners across the country impacted by COVID-19. He has raised more than $6 million dollars as of Friday night.
“I just wrote an email and I just said hey here's my friend this is everything she's gone through never gotten a hand out or a dime from anybody,” said Courtney Connolly, who is a longtime customer and friend.
Connolly heard back from Barstool Sports about her email and video submission. Then on Christmas Eve Prosen got a Facetime call while driving.
“I was driving to the restaurant to drop off Christmas gifts to the staff and their bonus and I get a random call,” said Prosen. “I answered and I see his face and I’m like, Dave, like I knew him, like 'hi Dave!' It was so exciting!”
She had to pull over and joked with Portnoy that she didn’t want to crash her car.
“He just briefly said he was touched by my story and thank God to Barstool Funds I’m able to get help,” said Prosen.
Prosen said Portnoy made her Christmas by giving her $15,000. The money will help her cover the wages of six employees and other expenses.
“I have these great employees,” she said. “It will break my heart. They’ve been with me since I opened. I have a cook who has been with me 26 years, another cook 15 years.”
Prosen is so grateful for her staff, longtime customers, and this Christmas gift to keep her restaurant open.
“I’m blessed. It changed my life right now,” she said. “Because it’s scary. I don’t know if I could survive another five months of being closed to tell you the truth— I won’t.”
Prosen is urging people in the community to support small businesses and to order directly from the restaurant.
“Right now with being closed and just having delivery and pickups not to mention names, but most of the third party delivery companies are really not helping small restaurants at all,” she said. “The percentage they keep from the sale is preposterous.”