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Photographer uses extra time to help restaurants struggling during COVID-19 crisis

Photographer uses extra time to help restaurants struggling during COVID-19 crisis
Posted at 9:48 AM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 12:48:09-04

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – COVID-19 has impacted so many jobs in the United States, especially those in the restaurant industry.

One photographer in Arizona is now using his talent and skills to give back to his community, by giving struggling restaurants an upper hand in this new world of take-out and delivery-only business models.

Everardo Keeme says his grandmother owns a restaurant so he has always had a love for the food and beverage industry. He even works part-time at one. With so many of his photography events canceled, Keeme found himself free, all of a sudden.

"So it's roughly about $18,000 that I've lost for the next couple months. I mainly photograph corporate events, headshots, product photography, things like that," said Keeme.

On Monday, KNXV caught up with him at Ling and Louie's Asian Bar and Grill in Scottsdale. Instead of corporate headshots, Keeme's stars today were plates piled high with pad Thai, shishito peppers, calamari, and firecracker chicken tacos.

John Banquil, owner of Ling and Louie's, said he was overwhelmed and grateful with Keeme's offer to photograph their food, which could then be featured on social media to attract new customers.

"I think this whole pandemic, this emergency has just shown the heart that people have," said Banquil.

"We are down probably about 75-80% from where we were. Obviously, it hit right in the middle of March which is the valley's sweet spot for restaurants. We have spring training and hundreds of thousands of people in town, so that hurt quite a bit," said Banquil.

Keeme has photographed 12 restaurants so far, mostly locally owned eateries.

"I'm just seeing how many families and lives are being impacted by it all. So, I might as well help and do something. I just love the industry," said Keeme.

Banquil said Keeme's kindness meant a lot to his staff.

"It's just overwhelming for him to do this for us. The whole community has been outstanding. Our servers are going home almost in tears because of the generosity people are showing. Just yesterday someone left a server a $100 tip on one order. Their order was only $40," said Banquil.

With the dining room of Ling and Louie's Asian Bar & Grill now closed, 50% of every gift card purchase will go directly to their employee relief fund to support hourly employees who have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus closures.

If you are interested in having Keeme photograph your restaurant you can reach him at https://www.photofusionstudio.com/ or (480) 382-7226.

This story was originally published by Sonu Wasu at KNXV.