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Independent restaurant workers raise money to support each other

Published: Jul. 22, 2018 at 10:17 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2018 at 12:15 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Independent restaurant operators came together Sunday for the Taste of Independents to make sure their colleagues, and even their competitors, would be financially safe during some of life's toughest situations.

At the fourth annual event, you could hear a soothing song play out as a guitar player got lost in his element.

Across the room at the Olmsted, Ellen Gill McCarty was fully immersed in hers, too.

"Pimento Cheese Hush Puppy with a sweet tomato sauce," Gill McCarty said, serving a plate to a guest.

She's at her best at the Taste of Independents Sunday, a fundraiser for Apron Inc., where 30 different independent restaurants handed out food, but things have been tough before.

"I was diagnosed with cancer four years ago," she said.

A battle that put Gill McCarty out of work.

That's when she heard about Apron Incorporated.

"We can step in and we can pay a couple months rent, we can pay a big medical bill," Apron Inc. President Gary Fox said.

The group calls itself Apron because it covers people in the independent restaurant industry when they need it most.

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"I knew about it, but I was too proud to ask for help," Gill McCarty said.

Eventually, she got a gr ant from Apron Inc., and is joining them Sunday as they raise money for others in need.

Dan Thomas is too. He's auctioning off a pop art painting of the late Anthony Bourdain - an icon to many of those in the Apron community.

"Everybody felt like you had a personal connection to him you know," Thomas said. "It's a universal thing, food."

As you can see in the paintings reflection, something else is universal too--the willingness of food workers to come together, which Gill McCarty has seen first hand.

"She is the embodiment of people helping and us helping them," Fox said.

With that help, Ellen worked on her recovery, and this Saturday, you could say she made up for some lost time, working more than a ten hour day.

"It's crazy how that works," Gill McCarty said. "It's in your blood. Once it's in your blood, you can't get rid of it."

Apron leaders said the organization helped 35 restaurant families that were affected by flooding pay rent this year.

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