Business owner paying it forward after rioters damaged his restaurant

ATLANTA — Following the riots of last weekend, several businesses throughout downtown Atlanta remain closed, but one store owner told Channel 2’s Christian Jennings that he’s hoping to reopen his restaurant by the end of this week.

Derrick Hayes, owner and CEO of Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks, said when he went to his restaurant following last Friday’s unrest, he found the windows smashed out in the front of the restaurant.

Hayes found out what had happened after a friend called him Friday night to say he had seen Hayes' business on the news.

“I was more so in disbelief,” Hayes said when he found the damage at his restaurant.

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He told Jennings that he opened Big Dave’s in August and that he pours his heart and soul into his work.

“Of course, I was hurt, but the bigger picture is another human being lost his life, and he’s a black man. I’m a black man, so watching that video was very hurtful. So I understand the bigger picture is us getting justice and human rights and everybody gets treated equally,” Hayes said.

He told Jennings that’s when he turned to his faith.

“I put everything in God’s hands,” Hayes said.

And the blessings were immediate. He says the community started GoFundMe pages to help his business, raising more than $26,000.

He said a couple of music artists stepped up too.

“Russ donated $20,000. Schoolboy Q donated $10,000,” Hayes said.

Because he now has more than he needs, Hayes said he plans to use the money raised through the GoFundMe pages to help other black-owned businesses.

“Whether they was affected from COVID, or the rioting or curfew — anyone affected that we can help, we’re going to help out best way we can,” Hayes said.

He told Jennings that he is hoping to get the windows repaired this week and reopen Friday.