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Owner of historic Fort Smith restaurant seeking help to support employees during coronavirus pandemic

Juan's Mexican Restaurant is asking for $60,000 to pay its employees because right now it is only open for curbside and not making much profit.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Juan’s Mexican Restaurant has been in business for more than 40 years, and they are asking for the community’s help to continue to keep their doors open. 

“I started the Go-Fund-Me because it was our last hope. To be honest with you, we are opened up for curbside, but it costs me money to be open,” said Will Anderson, owner of Juan’s Mexican Restaurant.

Anderson started the Go-Fund-Me Tuesday (Jan. 5) with a goal of $60,000 to pay his employees’ salaries. He says been paying his employees no matter if they’ve been working or not since March. He says the restaurant is losing money just by staying open for curbside, but he wants to provide the dishes they’ve been serving up since 1978.  

“I’m always being told by people that I’ve been coming here since 1982 or I met my wife and my mama works at Juan’s, and because of those things, I want to make sure this place stays open,” he said. 

In March, Juan’s completely closed and didn’t reopen for curbside until August, then offered dine-in for a few months, went back to curbside and then closed for most of December and reopened last week.  

“I’ve seen people get a lot of reignition for staying open or acts of generosity which I don’t care about that, I didn’t do this for attention, but when we are doing the right thing day in and day out and we are trying to be a leader in the community with how to handle covid and handle it well,” he said.  

Zack Smith has worked at Juan’s for two years and says it’s been a blessing knowing he was getting paid no matter if the restaurant was open or not. 

“I’ve got a family and stuff at home, so it means a lot to me that we have someone who cares enough for me that I’m not going to have to go out looking for a job or wonder where my next meal is going to come from,” he said.  

Juan’s Mexican Restaurant plans to donate 10% of the money raised to Antioch for Youth and Family.   

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