EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Long Island business is getting financial help from an unlikely source.

The outspoken founder of Barstool Sports launched a national fundraising campaign, starting with a struggling restaurant in East Meadow.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, Christmastime at Borelli’s in East Meadow was their busy season with packed bars and nightly parties.

“Everything just went to a stand still. All our parties were canceled,” said co-owner Frank Borelli.

“Look at our dining room. This is not Borrelli’s,” said co-owner Angela Borelli.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

A Long Island institution since the ’50s, a stone’s throw from the Coliseum, it has been a fan favorite for generations.

“We were the first restaurant here on Long ISland doing pizza before the Meadowbrook Parkway as built,” Frank said. “Pizza was like 90 cents for a large pie.”

They almost broke even in the summer, but outdoor dining is gone now too.

“We do moderate prices at high volume, and when they cut out that high volume on us, we just can’t make it,” Frank said.

Their plight was brought to the attention of Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, who has called for a bailout for struggling small businesses, and offered to put his money where his mouth is.

“We are going to donate half a million dollars and we have come up with a plan,” he said on Twitter.

The Barstool Fund will start with Borrelli’s.

“We are going to try to save as many businesses, small businesses, as we can, keep the employees getting paid, keep the owners in business ’til this thing is over,” he said.

Frank Borrelli’s emotional reaction was viewed by millions.

“January, February, March, I was planning on closing. I didn’t say anything to my staff. This is going to help so much,” he said.

And it’s a gift that will keep on giving. The Borellis vow to pay it forward.

“I didn’t want to take a penny from anybody. It’s not the way we do things, but this is going to help us, and it’s also going to help me feed needy families,” Frank said. “My kitchen staff can provide food for needy families.”

There was not a dry eye at the restaurant, where the phones are busy with orders.

“Sixty-five years, we started the business and we worked very hard, and it’s amazing how much support we are getting right now,” Angela said.

“The support has been unbelievable. Truly unbelievable. We are so touched,” said co-owner Beth Borrelli.

Barstools will also launch online fundraisers for the public to help businesses survive.

Dave Portnoy says the response so far has been overwhelming. There’s no word on how much money each business will get, only that they will try to help as many people as they can.

If you are a small business that needs help staying in business because of COVID, you can send an email to barstoolfund@barstoolsports.com. If you’d like to buy a t-shirt to help support Borrelli’s, click here.

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Carolyn Gusoff