LOS ANGELES - It's a bustling night at the grand opening of Denny's in Highland Park, and Lorena Morales is in her element, eager to serve the hungry customers.
"It’s awesome to be here again serving new customers and some old customers," says Morales.
After being laid off without warning from her job at Coco's Restaurant, where she had worked for three decades, Morales is grateful to have found employment again.
"I had been at Coco’s for 30 years and it was devastating to get the news they were closing down," Morales said.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Highland Park employees shocked about sudden closure of Coco's restaurant
As one of dozens of former Coco's employees who were left devastated by the unexpected layoff in December, Morales thought her career in the restaurant industry had come to an abrupt end.
However, fate had a different plan when Irfan Rashid, District Manager of Denny's, saw the news about the struggling Coco's employees and decided to step in.
"They were really concerned they wouldn’t have a job anymore, so right then and there, we offered them a new job," he said.
Rashid and his management team made a bold move by opening a Denny's in the very same building where Coco's had once stood.
It was a decision fueled by compassion and a desire to support the local community. The response from Highland Park customers has been overwhelming.
"The fact that Denny’s did this for the employees is awesome," said customer Patti Poblano.
Looking at his busy restaurant, Rashid says good karma goes a long way.
"You help others and people help you," he said.