Support is pouring in for a Long Beach restaurant owner following an emotional last-ditch plea for help as the business was on the verge of closing due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In a tearful video, Oscar Rodriguez, who opened Cantarito Molito’s Grill on Pacific Coast Highway just about a year ago, could be seen tearfully informing his customers that his business has been drowning in debt and may potentially close.
“I don’t want to close my doors. I want to keep going because I do believe in this beautiful restaurant,” Rodriguez said, as he struggled to fight back tears. “I know I need to keep going because help is on the way, but I don’t know I can keep going.”
Like millions of business owners struggling to stay open, Rodriguez says bills are piling up without money coming in—not even enough to buy meat for the few orders he had.
“I looked in the drawer and I only had like $50 in there,” he said, urging people to help as much as they can.
The emotional, heartfelt video captured the hearts of many in the community who listened to Rodriguez’s calls for help to keep his 30-year long dream alive. As of Sunday afternoon, the video has picked up over 90,000 views.
Robert Reedy, a resident from Whittier who traveled to Long Beach to eat at Cantarito Molito’s Grill , said Rodriguez’s video “really touched me because I know how much it took for him to make that video, to be that open and lay it all out there it brought tears to my eyes actually,”
Rodriguez says Cantarito Molito’s Grill is more than just a restaurant—it’s a part of his community, and one he gives back to.
Some of his loyal customers who were dining at the restaurant Sunday said Rodriguez is known to bring people together with great food.
Rodriguez’s own staff set up a GoFundMe account to accept donations to keep the restaurant going. As of Sunday evening, the account surpassed its fundraising goal of $15,000.
With the new support, Rodriguez said he hopes to continue to whip up the very food that has made customers happy and full. He added that he may even hire an additional employee with all the support he’s received in just the last 48 hours.
“Everybody is asking me, what does this do? It’s like a battery — it recharges me. I feel like I can do it,” Rodriguez said. “I want to take the time to say to everyone thank you. Thank you so much.”
Jennifer McGraw reports for the KTLA 5 News at 6 p.m. from Long Beach on Jan. 31, 2021.