This Widower Sadly Closed His Restaurant, Until Customers Gave Him A Huge Surprise

Tody Butner was sitting in his Virginia restaurant surrounded by familiar faces when one of them handed him an envelope. Before they knew it, the owner was in floods of tears. He couldn’t believe what had bee done for him, when he truly needed it the most.

Soul Mates

Betty and Tody Butner were a married couple from Eastern Henrico, VA. But in December 2017, everything changed when Betty passed away, leaving Tody a widower. Not only that, but her death had further implications, too. He was heart broken, his one true love had left him, but that was not all.

Proud Owners

For the previous three decades, Betty and Tody had been running a successful business together. They were the proud owners of Pinewood Restaurant, a buzzing and popular spot for locals. The area’s police officers and firemen were frequent visitors to the lively joint too.

Time To Say Goodbye

But when Betty passed away, Tody closed down the restaurant. Thirty-two years of business suddenly halted in December 2017, and all the locals were sad to hear about what had happened to Betty, and the subsequent closure of the well-regarded diner.

Gone Yet Never Forgotten

Betty certainly held a special place in her customers’ hearts. Henrico police officer Billy Grimmer explained to TV station CBS 6 News just how remarkable Betty had been. “She would hug you and kiss you on your cheek before you left,” he reminisced. She left her mark, and her absence was felt by all, especially her husband.

A Friendly Face Lost

And she would do so even if she didn’t know the customer very well, Grimmer explained. So when Betty died, it was little wonder that the Pinewood Restaurant customers were sad to have lost such a friendly face. “It was like losing your own mother, it was very hard,” admitted the police officer.

Community Must Come Together

It was an extremely sad time for everyone that knew the Butners, it was also a chance for the community to come together to show how much they cared. In a show of loyalty, many of its regular customers decided to join forces and do something to help Tody. They couldn’t bear to see him in so much pain.

Painful To Watch

People could not accept the fact that their favorite local Pinewood Restaurant would under because of Butner’s tragic loss. Despite the fact nothing could ever bring Betty back, the local community managed to find another way to help the bereaved owner get his restaurant back on its feet.

Back On His Feet

First things first, the customers got together to raise some money. The aim was to get together enough cash to help cover all the costs associated with a loved one’s passing. Then hopefully, the widower would be able to afford to keep his beloved restaurant open. After all it was full of fond memories.

Easier Said Than Done

However, although their efforts were strong, it was very hard to raise enough money just as they planned. They couldn’t let him down, they needed to think of a Plan B. How could they get more money? So they came together to formulate a plan.

Aha Moment

They decided to create a fundraiser, where all the proceeds would go towards the restaurant re-opening fund, and the whole community got on board, and loved the idea. Someone baked delicious treats, people sold their old clothes and jewelry, and it really became something that brought everyone together. But what would the result be?


A CBS 6 video news report captured the moment Butner was presented with the donations as he sat in his restaurant. Grimmer was the one who explained what the community had done, telling Tody, “We love you buddy,” as he handed the owner an envelope and shook his hand.

Incredible Achievement

Incredibly, the local patrons had managed to muster together over $6,000. This meant that the cost of Betty’s cremation was covered. Not only that, but according to local news station WTVR in December 2017, Tody would be able to keep the restaurant doors open as a result of the community’s kindness.

Tears Streaming

Butner was visibly overwhelmed by the community’s actions and had tears streaming down his face as Grimmer handed over the money just before Christmas. In front of a full house of loyal patrons, including many supportive and loving police officers and firemen, the widower announced “Y’all are the best.”

More Big News

With the extra $6,000, the restaurant was set to reopen just a couple of weeks later. But there was also some other big news. Betty used to be the one in charge in the kitchen, and a replacement was needed to take charge of the culinary responsibilities.

Betty’s Absence Noticed

So Tody’s daughter was drafted in to take control of the kitchen in Betty’s absence. Everything seemed set for Butner to get back on track, thanks to the kindness of those around him. And, of course, he was delighted with everyone’s generosity. He still had to pinch himself that this was real.

Cameras Caught Him

The cameras filmed him speaking to his friend Officer Grimmer, “I feel wonderful about it,” adding, “It’s nice to have good friends and the whole family and all the workers.”

Proudly With Them All

With a framed photograph of his beloved late wife sitting on the counter behind him, she was there in spirit, and it must have been a very emotional day for Butner. But one of Tody’s friends, Mike Elliott, said “You can feel her in the room now.”

There Was Still More

As if the kindness of the restaurant’s regular patrons wasn’t enough, something else also remarkable happened to Butner. A local funeral home, Nelson’s, heard about the widower’s predicament and decided it would pitch in and help, too.

Lovely Kind Gesture

The organization offered Tody a huge reduction on the cremation costs. Not only that, but the urn was offered to him for free too. At a time when a lot of widowers would have felt most alone, the Eastern Henrico community showed Tody just how many people truly cared about him, and that he never needed to feel lonely.

Friends Helping Friends

Although Tody’s tears suggested that he thought what everyone had done for him was pretty incredible, his companion and loyal customer, Grimmer, was very modest. He brushed it off as “something you do from the heart, just friends helping friends.”

Difficult To Manage

The financial implications of losing someone you love can be difficult to manage. But thankfully for Butner, there was a whole band of people who had his back during his time of need. He may now be a widower, but it’s clear that he’s far from alone in the world.

Grand Re-Opening

The day had arrived to re open the restaurant, and the community were up all night making sure the place was tidy, and that the spruced up menu was ready. They wanted it to be just perfect for him. But they encountered a few hiccups along the way.

Would They Fix The Problems In Time?

There was a huge leak that if left would become a huge issue and potentially lead to greater damages, so they quickly had to call a plumber to see if they could come in an emergency. Luckily the plumbing company knew how important this grand re-opening was and rushed over as quick as they could. But would it be fixable?

What Was The Verdict?

They couldn’t bear to let the widower down at the final hurdle, they hoped and hoped that it would be ok. To their surprise, the plumber fixed what needed fixing and even told them that it was his pleasure to do it for free, as he loved this place and was so sad to hear that it might close. This was music to their ears, and now they could put the final touches together.

The Big Day

What an amazing turn out it was, the whole community, and even friends of friends were there standing by Tody’s side. He was so overwhelmed by the local press and seeing everyone he knew that had formed a strong unit and done this for him. How his wife would be so happy if she was there, but he knew she was watching over them all beaming with pride.