Our experience with Restaurant Recovery

Our CEO and team look back at how one small act of help opened the door to the opportunity of a lifetime: helping Todd Graves and his team bring back a beloved Dallas BBQ restaurant.

A call to help

COVID-19 gave a ruthless strike on the world economy. Out of all the most affected industries like airlines and oil and gas, it was restaurants that brought the economic severity of the pandemic into a local perspective. As we saw our local restaurants’ business decrease, we felt called to help.

“Karen and I asked ourselves what we could do to help the community,” ImageFlow CEO Alex Valle said. “We chose the restaurant industry because we knew it was going to be the most impacted.”

As we began to see our surrounding restaurants close around us, our team got to work. We wanted to help immediately and tangibly through our resources, so we handed out banners and yard signs to local restaurants that were offering curbside pickup or mobile delivery.

In addition to this, we began to brainstorm other ways to help our community but little did we know that an opportunity to help was about to show up unexpectedly.

Interior and production designer Laura Rhoades contacted ImageFlow about a project she needed our help on. We had worked with Laura in the past through a previous project with Paramount TV series Bar Rescue.

“We got to work with Laura and the Bar Rescue team for a few episodes. We produced their graphics and signs,” Valle said. “We were very thankful to work with her again.”

An opportunity arises

This time, however, it wasn’t just about a show. Rhodes mentioned the opportunity involved Raising Cane’s founder and CEO Todd Graves as he traveled across the country to help family-owned restaurants impacted by COVID-19. Grave’s initiative turned into the Discovery Plus show called Restaurant Recovery.

“These great family-owned restaurants are important not only to their employees, but also the community and owners who sacrificed so much trying to keep the doors open. Our hope is that by providing a platform to highlight and amplify their awareness, these restaurants will be able to bounce back stronger than before,” Graves said in a press release regarding the series announcement.

Graves and his team selected Smokey John’s, a beloved BBQ restaurant known across Dallas-Fort Worth for its delicious hickory-smoked meats, home-cook style meals and its strong family values embedded into its culture.

We were grateful and expectant to come together with Graves to help the Reaves’ restaurant to greatness. While feeling grateful, we were also shocked at how, after what we believed was a small way to give back to our community, God provided us with this huge opportunity to help.

“It’s curious that after we did that small bit of help, we got contacted to work on that project,” Valle said. “We gave something that—we thought—wasn’t a lot, but we received so much more. God opened a door for us to help in a much greater way.”

And who better to go through that door than with one of America’s most successful restaurant owners?

Graves’ journey

Graves is no stranger to facing adversity. From getting rejected by his professors and banks to having to work 20-hour days in Alaska to self-fund his first restaurant, Graves has been through the ups-and-downs of restaurant ownership, and instead of growing into a cold corporate leader his care and compassion for people have only grown as Cane’s has.

“Meeting Mr. Graves was such an amazing opportunity. He’s a successful businessman yet he is so humble and connected to the communities his restaurants serve,” Valle said.

Throughout the project, we were able to see Graves and his team care for every aspect of the process. The sense of fulfillment was almost palpable as everyone worked together to bring Smokey John’s to full recovery.

By the end of the project, the entire team was proud of the work we had put in. It was a collaborative sense of accomplishment knowing that this had been more than just for profit, but for real people in our community looking for aid in such a difficult time.

Looking back

Reflecting on the entire experience, we still can’t believe this opportunity was given to ImageFlow. But when we are good stewards with the resources God has given us to help others, even if it feels like a little, we can see His faithfulness work in amazing and surprising ways.

“When you give something, it always comes back to you in double—always,” Valle said. “We believe that working with Todd and Restaurant Recovery means that more of these opportunities are coming. We are ready to help and give whenever the next opportunity arrives.”

We want to thank Todd, Laura and the entire Restaurant Recovery team once again for the opportunity to work alongside them. Check out episode two to see Smoky John’s amazing recovery, along with the entire 10 episodes of Restaurant Discovery, streaming now on Discovery Plus.

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