Tucson restaurant helps furloughed federal employees

Local restaurant helps furloughed employees

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A small gesture can go a long way, especially during this government shutdown. Many furloughed employees are taking any help they can get.

With each smile and greeting, it's clear Constantine Geoigacas knows the value of hard work.

"I'm 73 years old and still I work every day," Geoigacas said. He's the owner of Pastiche Modern Eatery in midtown.

He spends his days taking care of customers like Paige Hoskins, a furloughed employee who hasn't been out much since the shutdown began.

"(You) feel normal without breaking the bank," she said. "When you're broke, you don't allow yourself to do anything nice for yourself."

With each day this shutdown continues, things get tougher.

"I am now to the point where I have to tap into family resources and ask for help," Hoskins said.

At $14, the Pastiche burger she ordered likely isn't in the budget for unpaid government workers. Her meal meant more than you'd expect, because it was free.

"I see people that make no money now so I'm going to offer them the little bit I can," said Geoigacas.

Geoigacas wanted to help because he has felt their struggle. He’s a Greek immigrant, who once worked 16 hour days every day of the week.

"I never forgot where I come from. I was so poor in my life," he said.

Now rich with opportunity, he said, he's an American citizen who loves to give back.

“The United States has been so nice to me. I appreciate it.”

Life comes full circle, Americans helping Americans during their time of need.

"I just want to work. That's all I want to do," Hoskins said.

In the mean time, Geoigacas will keep offering a free burger until the shutdown ends. But he also adds a sprinkle of hope to the menu.

"If anyone works, is honest, and loves people - they're going to make it," he said.

He wants to remind everyone they can make it through, just as he did.

Pastiche is just one of many restaurants and businesses offering help to furloughed employees.

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