By Muffy Borgeron
Businesses were hit hard during the Dino-Day Disaster, especially the ones that sold food. Many were looted by hungry people, whose increased sizes required more calories to burn. Today, thousands of residents flooded these businesses to pay for what they ate.
“I was not expecting this,” said Sal Montoya, owner of Sal’s Deli in LoDo. “My deli was empty after that day, and my insurance could only pay so much. I don’t blame anyone for taking what they needed because it was a rough time, you know, so this really is something special.”
Allie deFranco, a Parkhill resident, started a Facebook campaign to repay the businesses that unwittingly helped so many people. “When I was an Allosaurus that day,” she said, “I was just so hungry, and I didn’t really care where I got my food. Perhaps it was the animal in me, but the human in me felt guilty that I was raiding Sal’s Deli. Then I started talking to some of my friends, who had similar experiences, and we decided to just start a campaign to take one day out of the week to repay these places the best we can, with money.”
DeFranco thought she’d get at most 100 people interested in her campaign, but as word spread online, that number quickly shot up to over 20,000 people. Everyone was encouraged to repay what they thought they took, but if they couldn’t afford that, they asked to donate at least $5 to that business.
Markets, delis, restaurants, and bodegas all over Downtown, Bexton, and Dukes were flooded with patrons, and most people gave back more than what they took. “This one lady was just too kind,” said Maria Gonzalez of Chica’s Bodega in Dominicana. “She told me how she was this big armored dinosaur, I don’t remember what she said she was, but she was just so hungry that she ate 20 heads of cabbage and a whole basket of tomatoes. If that’s true, it’d cost at least $100, but she gave me triple that. I just hugged her like she was my own daughter.”
DeFranco hopes that the money can be used to help get these businesses back on their feet, even if that’s going to be a long road. “My home only got a few scrapes from that day,” she said. “My office was closed that day and didn’t get damaged, so I’m one of the lucky ones. These people’s whole livelihoods have been dismantled. It’s the least we can do.”