The staff at Chili's in East Haven worked for a cause on Thursday to raise money for the Mitchell family, who lost loved ones in last week’s plane crash on Charter Oak Avenue.
"We wanted to give back to the families affected, so we decided to donate 50 percent of our sales from today, open till close, to the families affected," said Chili's general manager, Anthony Evans.
Evans said he didn’t know the family before the crash claimed the lives of Sade Brantley, 13, and Madisyn Mitchell, 1, but many of his regular customers did.
"This is a very close-knit community," Evans said.
The tragedy resonated with many East Haven residents. Two customers even rescheduled their lunch plans to attend the fundraiser.
As of 6 p.m. on Thursday, Chili's had raised about $9,000.
"We’re going to eat a lot so we can give a lot," said Chili's customer Sharon Basserman, of Branford.
"I think it’s excellent. I wish more places would do that for all sorts of good causes," said Carolyn Paul. of Hamden.
This fundraiser will contribute to funeral expenses and help the Mitchell family rebuild their lives.
Tomika George is a childhood friend of the girls' mother, Joanna Mitchell. She came to the restaurant to support the family and said she's amazed at how well Mitchell is doing.
"She's holding up very well. It's unbelievable how she can say so high spirit," George said.
Pilot Bill Henningsgaard and his son, Maxwell, were also killed in the crash. The Henningsgaards lived in Washington state and were flying east to visit colleges.