SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Employees at JP Thornton's, which was forced to close after being flooded by a water main break last week, fired up the grill and invited customers to pay what they could to help keep the restaurant afloat.
"We're trying to pitch in and do whatever you can, you know, try to get us up off the ground again," explained Cameron Charles, as he manned the grill. "We've got 43 people out of work, so the sooner we get up and running, the better off we are."
A steady stream of people pulled into the parking lot, grabbed a plate and exchanged some cash for burgers and steak tips.
"They need a little help. They're struggling. I guess the flood got them," said Sam Riesold as he sat down to eat. "I didn't know they employed 43, but that is a lot of people."
"It has been an experience. I've learned a lot in the last 5 days," stated owner Tom Howard. "In the end it is going to be fine."
"Of course you think your all set when something like this happens, and unfortunately I was a little weak in the insurance area, especially for a water main break," admitted Howard, who plans on upping his insurance coverage, just in case, once he can get his restaurant back up and running.
"You can't do it on your own," said Howard. "I've got some good people working for me. It is great to see it, you know what I mean, I'm glad that we can get the community involved, that is what it is all about."
While it will be quite a while before the restaurant will be back to normal, the deli and cafe got a green light from the city's health inspector to reopen for business on Wednesday.
"As soon as that open light comes on, come in, that's all that matters," said Charles. "The sooner we get rolling, the better off we are, plain and simple."