What’s Up South Texas!: Cibolo business feeds hundreds during pandemic through pay-it-forward program

“You don’t have to move mountains, but you can make a difference.”

CIBOLO – A Cibolo couple did not let the pandemic stop them from serving essential workers a free meal thanks to a pay-it-forward idea their son thought of years ago.

Dave and Jacque Peterson are the proud owners of Mako’s On the Creek, a small family business they opened a few years ago.

The name of the business had a deeper meaning for the family.

“I was a fighter pilot in the Air Force, and we have a habit of naming each other so I was named Mako, which is the second deadliest shark in the world. So it was kind of a good name to have,” Dave Peterson said. “When we talked about it, the kids were insistent that we call it that, so we did.”

At the start of the pandemic, things were scary for many small businesses.

“I don’t think we ever had a thought of giving up,” Dave Peterson said. “We felt that it was in hands greater than ours. Many of our staff members, this is how they take care of their families and we felt the responsibility of that first and foremost we had an obligation to them.”

So like other restaurants, the family did curbside pickup and found other avenues to stay afloat.

“Early on, once the realization was happening with this pandemic, we were really trying to get creative,” Jacque Peterson said. “Our son Mitch at the time had thought of this pay-it-forward idea years ago for the bar. Someone would come in and would buy a glass of wine. When another person came in the next time, they would have a free glass of wine. So it popped in our heads that we could do that for the restaurant.”

The family figured out a way to do the program, but with meals.

“People could donate $10, and that would be one meal and that would be a burger, a sandwich or a salad,” Dave Peterson said. “We wanted to keep it simple where you could designate. You could have said you want to send 20 meals to the hospital and you could tell us which one and which ward you would want it or you could say, ‘do with it as you see fit.’”

“Our son did a lot of the leg work reaching out to hospitals and clinics and schools and nursing homes,” Jacque Peterson said. “Once we launched it, the community was amazing. I think God’s hand was in it for sure. But we also wouldn’t have been anywhere if it wasn’t for the community.”

Before they knew it, they were cooking meals and delivering them to essential workers in the medical field and law enforcement.

“This provided to a lot of people an avenue to support others who needed the support at the time,” Dave Peterson said. “A lot of people wanted to help, they had an avenue to help, and it allowed our staff to continue to do what they loved to do and make a living.”

They even kept the program going strong during the winter storm in February.

“I got our chef on Zoom and we put together a meal with the food in the cooler and we were going through the rolling blackouts, so we would have some light for a little bit and we would be cooking in the dark,” he laughed. “Luckily most of the cooking equipment is gas.”

The family has fed at least 1,000 people with over $10,000 worth of food.

The city of Cibolo recognized them during a city council meeting, awarding them with the Gary Kelly Community Service Award.

They said they had a lot of plans for their future in helping the community and will continue to keep the pay-it-forward program alive for as long as they can.

“You don’t have to move mountains, but you can make a difference,” Dave Peterson said.

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About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.