Esau Escobedo has worked at what seems like every restaurant in Durham: Rue Cler, Mateo, JuJu, Pie Pushers, Hutchins Garage, and Dos Perros. On November 11, Escobedo—who now works as a cook at Pizzeria Toro—and his wife Beberlin lost their infant daughter, Ariana, just eight days short of her first birthday.

Ariana Escobedo was born on November 19, 2018, with a rare form of Muscular Hypotonia, a diagnosis that caused considerable breathing difficulty. Ariana spent several of her first few months in the hospital, with many additional trips to the ER, before doctors attempted a tracheotomy in an attempt to save her life. 

The Escobedo family has made plans to bury Ariana in a family plot in Guatemala; a daunting expense, given a long year of medical and travel bills. 

In a GoFundMe organized by Pizzeria Toro, the restaurant wrote “If you have had a meal in downtown Durham in the last decade, it is likely that Esau Escobedo has had a hand in its preparation,” and asks that “the people of Durham to come together and help raise up this family at this difficult time.”

So far, Hutchins Garage, Bull McCabes, Pizzeria Toro, and many other chefs and members of the restaurant community in Durham have pitched in to meet the $25,000 fundraising goal. 

You can find more about fundraising efforts here

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