ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - It was a very busy night at one South St. Louis restaurant, as customers and even competitors came to the rescue of a chef badly injured in a car accident.
"I am lucky to be alive after seeing the pictures of what I looked like," said Mathew Unger, owner of Mathew`s Kitchen on South Hampton Avenue. He and his wife Maggie have been running it for the past three years.
Unger was on his way home last week when his Jeep hit a patch of ice and flipped end over end, throwing him from the car.
He was not wearing a seat belt.
Now, after several days in intensive care, he is at home. His scalp is being held together with staples and stitches; he`s got broken ribs, and cracked vertebrae.
But ever since the accident, friends and family have been pitching in, customers have been pouring in, and his competitors have offered to lend him their chefs and send him their most precious asset of all--- their regulars.
"If you look on Facebook they are saying `go help Mathew and Maggie, eat at their restaurant,` and they are saying that to their customers, pulling business away from themselves and showing support which is unbelievable," Unger said.
Because Maggie needs to be home and wait on Mathew, the rest of the staff is waiting on everyone else.
Meagan Suarez has gone from front of the house to running the house.
"It`s nice that they trust us enough to take care of the whole restaurant," she said.
Help is also coming from outside the restaurant. Ted Toczylowski, a Mathew`s Kitchen regular and family friend is tending bar at night after leaving his day job at a marketing agency.
"I`m a beer and wine guy so making up special drinks tends to be a challenge," he said.
It will be several more weeks, perhaps even a couple of months before Unger is back at work.
But of all the things he will have to worry about between now and then, being able to stay in business will not be on the menu.
"It`s unbelievable," said Unger.
"It makes me want to work harder to get back there even faster so I can do more for them and the community."