VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — A south Georgia community is rallying around a local restauranteur known for helping others Rebound as he battles COVID-19.
For a restaurant to be closed down is one thing, for a restaurant to close because the owner has the coronavirus and is in the hospital is another.
That is the reality for Nicholas "Big Nick' Harden, the owner of Big Nick's in Valdosta.
"I actually got COVID-19, my wife, as well," said Harden. "So we had to shut down for a month and a half at the beginning of June and the beginning of July and that took a toll on the business."
Big Nick is known as a community leader, someone who never hesitates to help someone in need.
Throughout the pandemic, he's partnered with local organizations like Living Bridges Ministry and The Salvation Army, donating food from his restaurant to help feed people in need.
After contracting COVID-19 and ending up in ICU, he had to close his restaurant.
That's when he says the community really stepped up.
"I had a couple friends reach out to me during my recovery and they were like, 'Look man, I got your back. No questions asked,'" Harden said. " I didn't reach out. They were like, 'Hey, listen, man, we got you.'"
Friends like Mikki Hudson who owns Jessie's Restaurant & Catering.
"He's just an amazing person, he's a family guy, he's a community guy and he's out to do the right thing for anybody," said Hudson.
Hudson organized a BBQ fundraiser on July 14 and 15. They sold 490 box lunches and all the monies raised went to Big Nick's.
"I told him I wanted to do something special help him," Hudson said. "I wanted to do a fundraiser to bring in any kind of money to help him get back on his feet."
Harden says the outpouring of support when he and his family needed it the most was humbling.
"Just to have Valdosta and the surrounding counties, just folks come together," said Harden. "It's pretty awesome and it says a lot about our community."
It also shows that in Valdosta the cycle of helping others comes full circle.
Big Nicks, located at 904 Baytree Road in Valdosta, is now open for take-out and delivery with limited indoor seating.