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Montana restaurant owner buys employee a car to make it to work

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Not many employees can say their boss bought them a car, but Dave Bailey of Montana can.

Bailey works as the kitchen manager at Motherlode Sports Bar, Restaurant & Casino. The owner, Tony “Taco” Hernandez, gave Bailey money for a car last week and told him to put it in his name.

“He’s an amazing human being,” Bailey told the Helena Independent Review about Hernandez. “I look at this as, he’s investing in me.”

“I’ve never seen an owner take care of an employee this way. It really makes them feel valued.”

Hernandez, who didn’t want any credit for what he’d done, said he’s just down-to-earth and not a “money person.”

He comes from a family where his dad made sure they had food and a roof over their heads.

“He taught me, if people need help, and you can help, do it,” Hernandez said. “I’m not a top-of-the-hill kind of guy. I have what I need and believe in helping others.”

Bailey has been working at the casino for about three months. He didn’t have a car and so Hernandez would drive him to and from his job.

“It’s something I did for the both of us,” Hernandez said. “Or I’d have to cook and I don’t know how to cook. He had no money and no credit, he didn’t need a new car, just something reliable.”

Hernandez was considering purchasing a car for Bailey and in came frequent customer Kyle Osborne to pick up breakfast. Osborne works across the street at Lithia Chevrolet Buick GMC of Helena, and happened to be wearing his work shirt. The two struck up a conversation.

“Taco is a personable guy and was chatting me up,” Osborne said. “He asked if I worked across the street and mentioned he wanted to get his employee a car. We talked about a few options.”

Osborne said he went back to work, pulled a few vehicles up to the front of the lot, Taco got cash, and Osborne got to select a reliable automobile.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years,” Osborne said, “I’ve never seen an owner take care of an employee this way. It really makes them feel valued.”

Bailey said when Hernandez told him of the plan, it came as a surprise.

“He had just loaned me money to fix my house,” Bailey said. “I’m paying him back and now this.”

Hernandez said the money for the car isn’t a loan and there are no strings attached. He just expects his chef to be at work on time.

“I haven’t had to pick him up one time,” he said. “It’s been nice. I try to do my best for (my employees) because they do a good job for me. We all just try to make a living.”

This isn’t the first time Hernandez has helped an employee. He hired a woman a few years ago and then discovered she was living with her five children in a van.

“I saw this van with kids in the parking lot one day and asked about it,” he said. “I couldn’t have that.”

So, he put them up in a motel room until she got back on her feet.

Investing in employees, he said, has a good return.

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