CHICAGO (WLS) -- Patty Prosen, owner of 26-year beloved Lakeview Mexican restaurant Que Rico, just received an unexpected Christmas gift of $15,000.
"Yesterday, a phone call changed my life," Prosen said. "It made my Christmas Eve very special. I was very surprised, very honored to receive these funds from Barstool."
In her submission video for the grant Prosen admits her family business is struggling.
"I am sorry. I am going to get so emotional, but this is my home. My employees are not just my employees. My employees are my family," she said.
She submitted the video to the Barstool Fund to get financial help for her struggling restaurant.
"It's tough, it's really tough. It's scary. I mean, you know, last Sunday I had a $68 sale. Who survives on a $68 sale? So it's very scary," Prosen said.
Despite the challenges of the last nine months, she has refused to cut off the payroll.
She was driving Thursday when she got a call from Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, who recently established Barstool Fund. The fund supports small businesses impacted by shutdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. So far he's raised $5.9 million from 56,000 donors. Portnoy himself contributed $500,000 of his own money to the fund.
"We're getting thousands of emails," he said. "The basic requirements we have: your payroll has to be on. We don't want to just help the business owners, we want to help the employees."
Prosen was so overwhelmed by the news that she would be receiving funding, she had to pull over. Portnoy is giving her $15,000 each month until her restaurant can open at full capacity.
"She's somebody with a long history of success, a loyal client base," he said. "Clearly, the restaurant is her life and to lose it like that through no fault of your own, those are the people you want to help."
"This is huge. And I'll be able to sleep better at night for the next few nights," said Prosen.
The Barstool Fund was launched in collaboration with the nonprofit 30 Day Fund. Portnoy got the idea to start the fund after New York City renewed its ban on indoor dining. The National Restaurant Association believes the industry is in freefall, citing data released in early December that 17% of restaurants, more than 110,000 establishments, have closed permanently or long-term since the start of the pandemic. Prosen is one of 14 business owners awarded money so far.
Big name donors to the fund include the New York Yankees, the Winklevoss twins, and Marcus Lemonis of "The Profit" on CNBC. Portnoy has also challenged other big names to donate to the fund, including Elon Musk, Tom Brady and Roger Goodell.
Portnoy said because he went to jail for Tom Brady, he would like to see the quarterback donate to his fund. He also challenged Roger Goodell, saying, "If he donates $250,000 to this, and the guy makes $40 million a year by the way, if you donate $250,000 to this I'll match it with my own money."