By Marie Saavedra

MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. (CBS) — In a year where so many have lost so much, being able to pay your bills and have a warm meal means even more.

A family-owned Mount Prospect restaurant considers itself lucky to pay its own bills and go on providing meals, so as CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra reported Wednesday night, that restaurant is giving back.

In this pandemic, we’re used to seeing lines outside businesses trying to control the capacity. But that’s not the full story behind the line outside Qulinarnia Modern Polish Cuisine, in the Mount Prospect Commons shopping center at 1730 W. Golf Rd. in the northwest suburb.

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a busy, bustling restaurant, then watch the video above and soak in the scene at Qulinarnia.

The bustle was there even though no one can dine inside – the staff were filling bags to be handed out to those people in that long line instead. Regardless, it felt like a thrill, especially to its owner.

“It’s hard,” said Agnushka Yanovska. “We are closed, and it’s so hard to stay alive with only takeout and deliveries.”

But Yanovska’s phone kept ringing, and the line outside her shop seemed to keep growing with loyal customers – who she says are the only reason that during this time, her business has survived.

“It means a lot,” Yanovska said. “It means they really care about our wellbeing here.”

The bags were full of Polish classics like pierogi and goulash. They went to people like Anna Osmani.

“It’s worth the wait,” she said. “Trust me.”

Osmani stood in rain and dropping temperatures to support a family run business she loves. She also knows her kindness will be paid forward.

“She’s such a lovely lady,” Osmani said of Yanovska. “She gives away food to the less fortunate people, and the food’s just delicious – and you want to come here and support them too.”

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Most of the bagged meals were for paying customers, but Qulinarnia and another Polish restaurant and another partnered to donate dinners to families in need.

Fifty of the meals were set to go out Wednesday night, while the rest donated to doctors and nurses at a nearby hospital.

“You have to be supportive to people who are less fortunate, and this way, at least we can at least pay back to the community that was supporting us the entire year,” Yanovska said.

To still be open and still be giving during this time is a feat – only made possible by a chain of generosity that starts by placing an order.

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Marie Saavedra