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Community support keeps Wicked Batter Café open after COVID-19 financial struggles

It's a story of the community coming together and giving a local business a gift they'll never forget.

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — The owners of a Clay County bakery say they've received a Christmas miracle. 

They announced on Facebook the bakery would have to close due to financial strains from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The business couldn't pay employees, but that all changed the day after the post. The owners now have enough money to pay workers for another month and hope to keep their doors open in what's become a sweet tale.   

"The first year we opened, everything was fantastic. We were really doing great, and then February hit," said Barbara Tharp, co-owner of Wicked Batter. 

The bakery did takeout and kept its dining room closed for months. 

"We had gotten to the point where we had gone through all of our cash reserves," Tharp said." I had money put to the side. We don't have loans. We own all of our equipment. Everything is paid off. We thought we were in a good position, but 11 months in, it can only stretch so far." 

"There's so much fear when it comes to losing something like this. My first thought was Sarah and Lucky. They're our employees here, and it really means a lot to be able to give them a good work environment and something to depend on," said Kelsie Willoughby, co-owner of Wicked Batter. 

Mixing the frosting and wrapping the sandwiches at Wicked Batter Café in Orange Park was going to stop forever, but people rallied behind the small business. 

From almost emptying the shelves for good to working 40 hours the past two days, the owners say what the community has given them is sweet just like cupcakes and pies.

Now the phone rings off the hook, workers make fresh food, and customers fill the dining room. 

"It's more than just making cakes. We've been able to touch a lot of lives," Willoughby said. 

"To see people come together for someone they don't know as a collective is really, really cool," Tharp said." You see it in all kinds of little places in the world. It always blows my mind and gives me goosebumps a little bit, so seeing it happen here is really neat."

It's a story of the community coming together and giving a local business a gift they'll never forget. 

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