Kyleena Falzone’s restaurants in Crested Butte, Colorado generated $6 million in revenue last year, but when the pandemic hit and the tourism cash flow dried up, she had no choice but to close her doors. Rather than dwelling on the loss of her business, Falzone rolled up her sleeves and spent the next three months feeding those in need in her community.
After crowdfunding nearly all of the $100,000 needed to fund the initiative, Falzone provided 11 weeks of farmers’ market handouts, 83 nights of free dinner kits, and three weeks of free groceries to members of Gunnison County.
Falzone started by simply offering to help friends and family with grocery runs and creating make-your-own pizza kits to sell to neighbors. When local businesses bought and donated hundreds of her kits, she kicked the project into high gear and began crowdfunding to donate even more meals. She also created weekly farmers’ markets to distribute free produce to locals.
Falzone estimates that over three-quarters of her donors are second homeowners in the resort town. Shamrock Foods, a local grocery store, also donated lots of free food.
Although her most recent initiative is impressive, Falzone is not new to the world of giving back to her community. Last year, she began construction on an apartment complex to offer affordable housing to her employees who often struggled in the expensive ski town. Her first tenants are set to move in this month. Her restaurant menus also encouraged customers to tip workers and she offered 401(k), free yoga classes, complimentary ski passes, and first-time homebuyer’s classes for her employees.
As businesses reopen, there are positive signs for the economy of Crested Butte, but Falzone isn’t done giving back. She’s starting a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing suicide, domestic violence, and cancer. The plan is to focus on the nearby area for the first three years and then expand.