By CBSLA Staff

LONG BEACH (CBSLA) – A restaurant owner who made an emotional plea on Instagram that went viral to save his business during the pandemic is getting help from the community.

“I have worked really, really, really hard for it but at this point, the reality of it is, I’m really struggling,” said Oscar Rodriguez, owner of Cantarito Molito’s Grill, through tears on Instagram.

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Rodriguez said he saved up his money for a long time to follow his dream of opening up a restaurant, which he did in Long Beach in late 2019.

But when the pandemic hit he was unable to secure a federal loan because he did not have tax returns for the business or proof of income yet.

The community is helping out in a big way by going to the restaurant to eat. Starting Friday when outdoor dining resumed in the county, there were lines out the door.

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“We know there are a lot of businesses struggling and so when we heard he was about to go under we came out,” said one customer Sunday.

A GoFundMe page has also been set up for the restaurant that has raised over $15,000.

“The support I had in these last 48 hours has been immense,” he said Sunday. “It motivates me to wake up every morning and do it again.”

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Rodriguez is now hiring back many of the employees he had to let go during the indoor and outdoor dining closure. He is hoping the local support from customers will help the restaurant permanently stay afloat.