KIRKWOOD, Mo. – During Tuesday lunch hour at PJ’s Tavern, chef Jesse Randle is doing prep work for an event to help a co-worker.

“With the pandemic, we shut down on Tuesdays to give everybody a little breather,” said Adam Hartig, owner of PJ’s Tavern. “So now that we’re getting at the back end of that, we’ve got a worthy cause to celebrate today. We’re doing a fundraiser for our dear friend Mike Kopp, who’s been an employee here for 22 years, and he’s just coming off a successful liver transplant.”

Kopp began working the front door at PJ’s when he was 15. He soon became a busser and picked every odd job at the restaurant along the way before he was promoted to manager. Over the last few years, Kopp been in need of a liver transplant.

“Our staff is coming into work and we’re donating tips,” Hartig said. “As the owner, I’m going to kick back the profits and participate with the food costs. Hopefully, we’ll get a good turnout and with Mel Hughes coming in to play some live music from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., I think we should be able to turn up some money for him.”

Chef Randle said Kopp was there for him to get him acclimated when the restaurant hired him four years ago. For Randle, it’s time to repay that kindness.

“So, I definitely want to try and do anything I can to help him out whenever I can because we’re friends,” he said.

PJ’s Koppathon fundraiser takes place Tuesday from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m.