MUSKEGON, Mich. — When Amber Thompson arrived to Hamburger Mikey’s on Monday afternoon, she walked past the cameras that were set up on the sidewalk and into the restaurant.
Then, minutes later, she walked back outside and was in tears.
“Oh my gosh, really,” she exclaimed while looking at a black Hyundai Sonata parked on the street.
“It’s all for you,” said Chef Jenna Arcidiacano while standing next to her.
When Chef Jenna, as she’s commonly called, opened the car door, Thompson leaned in and cried.
“I don’t even think that it’s fully hit me yet, what just happened,” Thompson said during an interview after the surprise. “What just happened is FoodHugs, and I believe some other people, I’m not even really sure who it’s from yet. That’s how new it is. I know FoodHugs is a big part of it.”
FoodHugs is charity created by Chef Jenna during the pandemic to spread positivity and grub to frontline workers and restaurant owners.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Chef Jenna. “It’s all community-based. It’s all fundraised, just by asking, they had no idea where it was going. I just said ‘a single mother needs a car.’”
Thompson said that three weeks ago, her car was stolen when she was was trying to open her shop The Only Cannoli and let one of her employees into the building.
“Apparently my keys were not in my purse. So, just in the time of me going up and unlocking the door, taking care of, you know, you get pulled every different direction for a little bit,” she said. “I walked out back to get the ricotta that I needed and I found out at that very moment that my keys were not in the bottom of my purse somewhere.”
Thompson said she filed a police report and posted what happened on social media.
Chef Jenna learned about the incident miles away at Amore Trattoria, her restaurant in Walker.
“People started tagging me when they heard that her car got stolen,” Chef Jenna recalled. “And so we got to work and I have a friend who owns an estate sale company. It’s called Fowle Estate Sale. She texted me and said ‘I think I have a car for you.’”
Chef Jenna knew exactly who to give it to. Monday morning, she and a friend picked it up. Monday afternoon, they put the keys in Thompson’s hands.
“It was hilarious. You guys were standing right here and she didn’t even, boop, went right over her head,” Chef Jenna said while laughing. “Because she’s struggling right. Things that are on her mind are her business. And if we can help her stay in her business by going and eating her delicious cannolis, her delicious baked goods. She’s right next to Hamburger Mikey.”
Chef Jenna said she’s grateful for the people who donated to FoodHugs.
Thompson’s grateful too.
She said when her old car was recovered it was found gutted. In the meantime, she’s been driving a car that a stranger she met through her Facebook business page loaned her. Now, she can return the borrowed car and drive her own set of wheels.
“It’s all up hill from here because there’s nowhere else to go,” Thompson said.
***For more information on FoodHugs, click here. ***