Lafayette, Louisiana — Chris Muffoletto, general manager at Ruffino’s on the River, has a lot to smile about this week.

But it has nothing to do with food.

Last week, one of his employees, dishwasher Kea Senegal, had his car stolen – and immediately, the Ruffino’s team knew they had to help.

“He had saved up for months to buy a car for his family,” Muffoletto says. “He has a wife and two children – a 4-year-old and a 4-month-old – and when we found out what happened, we didn’t feel like we could let it go.”

Last week, the team held a meeting, where Muffoletto asked staff if they would be willing to pitch in to help get Senegal a replacement vehicle.

“Everyone was 100 percent onboard,” Muffoletto says. “It took three days to raise $2,500. Then, the people at Don’s Wholesale found out what we were doing and matched the funds. Their generosity was instrumental in this – they should get as much credit as anyone.”

On Wednesday, Muffoletto and the Ruffino’s team surprised Senegal with a 2015 Chevy Malibu – and his reaction was priceless.

RestaurantCarSurprise Ruffinos
Ruffino's employee Kea Senegal was surprised by his co-workers with a new car after his vehicle was stolen last week.
CHRIS MUFFOLETTO

“It was very special to see him so surprised,” Muffoletto says. “Kea has worked here since we opened. He is a very solid employee, well liked and just a great overall guy. It was very nice to be able to give back a little, especially during the Christmas season.”

One of the best parts of the experience, Muffoletto adds, was that it didn’t start out as a huge plan – it blew up on its own.

Ruffino's employee Kea Senegal was surprised by his manager
Ruffino's employee Kea Senegal was surprised by his manager and co-workers with a new car after his vehicle was stolen last week.
CHRIS MUFFOLETTO

“It’s a great example of the staff and of the entire community,” Muffoletto explains. “We just got to it, raised money, and made it happen.”