Looking for ways to keep small businesses open

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A local business and non-profit are teaming up to take down. hunger during the coronavirus pandemic. The idea is also to help keep small businesses open and people employed. 

Todd Johns, owner of Plowboys Barbecue, had a full freezer, but an empty feeling when the effects of COVID-19 kicked in.  

“In my 28 years of management, it was the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to do,” Johns said. 

He was forced to lay off 40 of his 42 workers and a manager. Only his BBQ joint in Blue Springs, 3111 S, MO-7, remains open.

“It was emotional,” Johns said. “When you’re a small business owner, you know, these aren’t just your employees, these are the ones facilitating your dream.”

As the lights temporarily went off at two of his three locations, hope shined through a phone call. 

“The change in emotion went from kind of despair and desperation and not knowing what the next day would hold,” John explained, “to hope.”

Stan Hay with Operation BBQ Relief was on the other end of the telephone. He was a man with a plan for our community.

“It keeps businesses open; it keeps people employed and it keeps people fed,” Hays said. “It’s very simple.”

Operation BBQ Relief is known for helping people after natural disasters. 

During this operation in Kansas City, OBR will supply the food for Johns and his team to cook up 2,500 meals a day. 

“But this comes along with a cost,” Hays said.

The whole operation costs about $150,000 for two weeks.

No matter how you slice it, Hays said they need more funding from community partners to continue this effort. 

“We can’t do it all by ourselves,” Hays said. “This is one of those things we can do so much more together than we can divided.”

Johns is positive his Overland Park Location has got the smokers, cooler space and manpower to make this work.  

“I’m really, really, really happy and proud to say that we were able to bring six employees back that had no income,” Johns said. 

If you or someone you know needs a meal email feedingkc@plowboysbbq.com.

Johns said they will do some delivery, but mostly curbside pickup. He asks that people wait outside for the food. 

As for donating or becoming a partner visit OBR.org, or email SHays@obr.org.

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