His customers raised $11K after a break-in at his restaurant. But he wants others to have it, too

·2 min read
The sweet smell of Mystic Muffin’s classic apple cake has filled the corner of Richmond and Jarvis streets for nearly 30 years. (Ivan Arsovski/CBC - image credit)
The sweet smell of Mystic Muffin’s classic apple cake has filled the corner of Richmond and Jarvis streets for nearly 30 years. (Ivan Arsovski/CBC - image credit)

The sweet smell of Mystic Muffin's classic apple cake has filled the corner of Richmond and Jarvis streets for nearly 30 years.

But that was briefly interrupted last month when someone broke into the beloved business, shattering a front window.

Customers leapt into action in the days that followed, setting up a gofundme page last week that has raised more than $11,000 for the restaurant. But when owner Elias Makhoul found out about the money, he says he immediately started thinking about others who could use the support more than he does, like those seeking a solar-powered pump to help with olive harvesting in his home country of Lebanon.

Ivan Arsovski/CBC
Ivan Arsovski/CBC

"I come from a family of giving," Makhoul said in an interview Wednesday with CBC's Metro Morning.

"My dad worked harder than I do, probably … He was focused, he never complained ... He always had a good look at life."

Makhoul is also thinking of giving back to his local community.

After his restaurant was broken into, he began to notice an increase in crime and vandalism in the surrounding area.

"It's been horrible lately," said Makhoul," adding that he hopes some of the money can go toward helping other businesses fix their broken windows.

'Love, sweat and tears'

Makhoul's generosity doesn't come as a surprise to his community. Michael Grimbly, the loyal customer who started the gofundme page last week, says Makhoul is the happiest person he's ever met.

"He knows everyone's name, anyone who will come in," said Grimbly, noting Makhoul always asks people for far more than just their orders — he's genuinely interested in their lives.

Grimbly says he started the fundraiser to bring the community together and show its love for the restaurant Makhoul has "put his love, sweat and tears into."

Micheal Grimbley
Micheal Grimbley

After decades in business, Makoul says it's never been about the money for him.

"We have [a] whole life to make money, but only a few moments to make friends," he said.

"When you have people come in every day and you know them by name … by faith, and you make them feel good.. you make me feel good," he said.

'You have to give out to get back'

As he opens his oven door to check on a fresh banana loaf, Makoul says he feels grateful for the loyal customers who supported him through the pandemic and the break-in.

"Everybody supported us — whoever stayed in the area, whoever came back, whoever passed by. And you could see it last week," he said..

Makhoul has yet to make up his mind on what exactly he'll do with the money his customers raised, but with his heart so deeply rooted in his community, he's happy to pay it forward.

"What comes around goes around," said Makhoul.

"It's a chain reaction. You have to give out to get back."