Reyes Suarez knows what it feels like to struggle.
Fifteen years ago, he could not find a job for three months. He bounced back, eventually going into business for himself. Suarez owns Bentley’s Bagels & Brew in Algonquin.
So when he heard about the people struggling in the area, he wanted to help.
He put up a sign that reads: “Times are tough. But eating a good breakfast shouldn’t be.
If your genuinely struggling, Let Bentley’s help you
Pay what your can afford: Bagel with cream cream cheese or donut”
“I was trying to come up with the right words, this is the best I came up with,” said the Lake in the Hills resident, who is originally from Mexico. “I just wanted to help people out.”
He put up the sign three months ago. Suarez planned to try out the idea for a while to see how it goes. He figured he would take the sign down if the bagel shop was overwhelmed.
So far, he’s only had a handful of people paying what they can afford. Suarez does not feel anyone has abused his policy.
Helping others makes his day, he said.
Suarez ’s regular and new customers who want to give him money to pay for others who can’t afford a bagel or coffee. He does not accept the money. He just wants to do something nice and show support to others having a hard time, he said.
Max Mendez has worked at the bagel shop for about a year. He gets a lot of comments from customers about the sign.
“People like it (the idea),” he said. “People try to encourage us.”
When Mendez gives a coffee or doughnut or bagel to someone who can’t afford to pay or can only pay a little, they usually try to explain.
“We defiantly don’t need an explanation. It’s an honor code thing,” Mendez said, adding he can see the gratitude in the faces of those people Suarez is helping.