The Backstreet restaurant in Riverside keeps its long-standing traditions and adds a new pay-as-you-go project to help neighbors

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) — A family restaurant in Riverside has built many traditions over its half century of service. The restaurant was recently sold, and the new owner added another tradition – pay it forward.

Backstreet Restaurant is a Riverside staple, serving up sandwiches in a unique setting for over 50 years. A few decades later, Alan Reinhardt is now the owner of this popular restaurant.

“I came here all the time as a customer when I was a kid, my parents brought me here,” Reinhardt said.

If he knows not to break tradition, Reinhardt has added paper cards, hung by a string along the front counter. It’s an idea he had when he lived in the Bay Area, encouraging neighbors to help neighbors.

“There was a brewery that I always went to, they had a pay-for-pay program,” Reinhardt said. “They were writing on clothespins, beer for a cop, or whatever. And you could pay for an official or whatever, and I loved the idea.”

So when he became an owner this year, that was one of the changes.

“We made $15 for anybody in need; we made $20 for somebody having a bad day,” Reinhardt said. “And I’m before law enforcement, so we made 15 or 20 dollars for Riverside PD. And it took about a month and there were 30.”

Free food for a road patrol, a teacher or anyone in need: creativity and generosity are at the heart of this project.

“Yesterday a client came here and asked me if it was only for the police, only for the nurses, only for these people. I said no, you can do it for anyone,” said said Reinhardt. “And her husband was a health inspector for the town of Riverside, and I said no, they’re having the toughest times and she bought a drink for a health inspector.”

It’s a new tradition that Reinhardt hopes will continue, especially during times of stress.

“We tried to bring this online to bring a sense of community, a sense of family. This family restaurant has been around forever and we want to treat our customers like they’re part of the family,” Reinhardt said. “So we want everyone to be able to come here and eat here and enjoy.”

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