When the owner of Beijing Bistro, Eddy Martinez, suffered a stroke three weeks ago, Buda businesses and residents proved to his family that people stand together in times of need. This event has drained the Martinez family, who are trying their best to keep their family’s livelihood.
“We have had a lot of support since Eddy has a lot of friends and family members,” said Janette Martinez, Eddy Martinez’s youngest child. “We have other restaurant owners asking if we need help and customers always asking how he is. We even have friends and family members who have started to sell food in order to raise donations for his medical bills.”
The first people waiting in the line to help were Martinez’s daughters, who put their lives on hold to keep their father’s business afloat. Not only have they had to emotionally deal with the news of their father’s stroke, but they had to reconfigure their lives to keep the business operating.
Although his two daughters are working tirelessly, they still feel like they are falling short; Eddy Martinez had so much of the business plan in his head that his daughters have to slowly extract information from him to make sense of it all. They have managed to keep the business open for to-go and delivery orders, but they have not caught up enough to provide dine-in services.
Janette Martinez, 25, had to welcome an unwanted option into her future’s equation. She can either continue pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University in College Station, or she has to put the semester on hold, jeopardizing her university career, so she can stay in Buda to manage the restaurant.
There are many culprits that contribute to the difficulties of Eddy Martinez’s situation – it is not just a story about a stroke. Over the last few weeks, the Martinez family has dealt with the financially burdensome healthcare system. His hospitalization also showed the family the struggles of being ill during the coronavirus pandemic. And all of
the moments that added up to Eddy Martinez’s stroke proved the bittersweet journey of achieving the American Dream.
Beijing Bistro has been operating in Buda for five years, but five years before that, Eddy Martinez opened another location. And prior to that, which resolves the mystery of why a Mexican man operates a Chinese restaurant, Eddy Martinez worked at Chinese- food restaurants for 30 years.
Eddy Martinez has been building his American Dream for a long time, since he moved to the U.S. at the age of 15. He has helped secure his family financially, but he could not afford health insurance in Texas, the state with the most uninsured residents. The lack of health insurance caught up to Martinez, where his first night at the hospital cost $13,000.
Janette Martinez said they have not been able to keep track of the costs, but when he needed to move from the hospital to the rehabilitation center, they had to make a good faith payment of $3,000. The family scrambled to come up with this amount and have a mountain of debt waiting for them.
Adding insult to injury, his family has not been able to visit Eddy Martinez or see him due to coronavirus hospital regulations. The family has been talking to him through the room phone, but they do not have a full grasp on his recovery or health condition. Janette Martinez said only her mother and brother have clearance to ask about his health, but even then, they are not getting answers from the doctors.
Due to the high cost of medical care, the family decided to reach out for community help by creating a GoFundMe page. They also welcome donations and letters for Eddy Martinez at the restaurant.
Many restaurant business owners did not wait for these opportunities to offer help, instead, the extended their services as soon as they heard about the stroke. Janette Martinez said that her father’s sociable and giving personality is the reason so many people have reached out to help. She recalls her father frequently giving customers free beer, food and wings.
His friendly manner is the reason why everyone knows him well, including the EMTs who rushed him into the ambulance, the nurses who worked with him, business owners and members of the Buda Chamber of Commerce.
Still, the stress of his work was a major cause of his stroke, Janette Martinez said. She explained that he barely got three hours of sleep at night. He would go to bed very late planning for the next day and wake up before dawn to get a head start. In a way, staying in the hospital and rehabilitation center has given him a necessary break, added Janette Martinez.
“Hopefully we will set it up so he is less stressed by work,” Janette Martinez said. “He has been talking about taking a vacation to Las Vegas. He has never taken a vacation except for seeing family members, because having a business, they always need him 24/7.”
The work for the Martinez family does not end when their father comes back home because he will need constant monitoring. Still, Eddy Martinez is eager to come home and check in on his work, but will have to stay at the rehabilitation center for a few more weeks, said his daughter.
Until then, Janette Martinez hopes that she can train her older sister or someone else to take over the management position so she gets to go back to her university next semester.