Customers dining at a Broening Manor restaurant on Tuesday night got a surprise when they learned their meals had been paid for by Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
Harbaugh was dining at Jimmy’s Famous Seafood restaurant with his wife, Ingrid, and filming a video for the restaurant’s Famous Fund, a fundraiser to support Baltimore restaurants and bars that have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Famous Fund has raised more than $453,000 to support city businesses.
Jimmy’s owner John Minadakis would not disclose the total bill amount out of respect for the Harbaugh family, but he said the restaurant had about as many customers as allowed under Baltimore City’s current coronavirus-related capacity restrictions. (Baltimore restaurants and bars are allowed to operate outdoor dining at 50% of their maximum capacity and indoor dining at 25%.)
Minadakis praised Harbaugh, head coach of the Ravens since 2008, for his generosity and leadership as Baltimore City continues to feel the health and economic effects of the pandemic.
“Baltimore is extremely fortunate to have Harbaugh as a leader,” Minadakis said. “His grit, honesty, candor, demeanor and compassion are exactly what we need right now as a city.”
Before paying for everyone’s dinner, Harbaugh took photos with customers and restaurant staff who asked.
“We gave him the option to have a private room, but he said he wanted to sit with everyone else,” Minadakis said.
Harbaugh told ESPN that the idea to pay for the other customers’ dinners was all his wife’s idea.
Minadakis said he has only seen someone pay other customers’ bills on this scale one other time — when Tom Hanks visited with his wife, Rita Wilson, for his 40th birthday.
The pandemic has been “devastating” and “brutal” for Jimmy’s, Minadakis said.
“I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else,” he said. “We’re going through the same exact same thing that every other restaurant is going through right now.”
After Minadakis’s own restaurant took a financial hit from the pandemic and he saw other establishments experience similar challenges, he was inspired to start the Famous Fund to help give other businesses some relief.
They originally set a goal of $100,000 which they surpassed within days. Six weeks later, the fund has raised more than $453,000 — and they don’t plan on stopping any time soon, Minadakis said.
Marcus Lemonis, star of the CNBC reality show “The Profit” which aims to save small businesses, has already donated $60,000 to the fund in three increments of $20,000. Minadakis said Lemonis has pledged to donate another $20,000 once the fund reaches $500,000.