Evangela Stanley had never heard a gun go off, until the night of Dec. 23 when a man attempted to rob her Brooks Avenue restaurant and fired.
Her friend and customer Darnell Wilson was in People’s Choice Kitchen and fought with the assailant.
“I was praying for Darnell,” Stanley said. “I know he’s strong. He just proved just how strong he is, to hold him off and save my life and everyone around. He’s my hero. He’ll always be my hero.”
The Monroe County Legislature on Jan. 14 honored Wilson for his bravery and honored Stanley for giving back to the community through her pay-what-you-can promotion.
The two were issued proclamations before the legislature’s scheduled meeting, and the pronouncement was met with a standing ovation from legislators and the members of the gallery.
“Thank you, I appreciate it,” Wilson said after the room became quiet. “I’m at a loss for words, especially doing something that was the right thing to do. I don’t know what to say but thank you.”
Stanley said she started the promotion around Christmas because December can be a tough time for low-income people who are living on a budget. “I want to give back in a way they could pay what they can afford, $3, $4. It didn’t matter the amount of money. Just knowing they could come in and get a meal, no questions asked.”
The public recognition of Wilson and Stanley came less than a month after the incident. People’s Choice Kitchen was open the next day, and Stanley said the community redoubled its support for the restaurant.
Wilson continues to heal from his injuries. His right hand, which was cut and required about two dozen stitches, appears swollen and he flexes it carefully. He said bruises to his side and shoulder are better.
Wilson, who said he works in manufacturing, had Dec. 23 off and he went to the restaurant.
That day, Stanley’s son turned 19.
“It was one of the worst days but then the best day of my life,” she said. “Thank God Darnell was there to intervene. No telling what would have happened if he had not been there.”
“I’m glad I did it,” Wilson said.