‘He worked hard and smiled harder’: Popular area waiter succumbs to COVID-19 at age 41

Staff and customers of two area restaurants are remembering a popular employee today as they try to raise funds to support the family he left behind.

Felipe Cuahuizo was a 17-year employee of Manhattan in the Desert on East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, as well as an employee of The Roost Lounge in nearby Cathedral City. The Desert Hot Springs resident died this week after battling COVID-19 for the past two weeks. He was 41.

Staff at Manhattan of the Desert said Thursday that Cuahuizo leaves behind a legacy of hard work and kindness. Customers donating in his memory recall him as their favorite waiter in the desert.

“There were customers who came every weekend for years just to sit in his section,” recalled Kimberly Guzman, one of the Manhattan managers.

“We’re absolutely heartbroken,” wrote staff from The Roost on their Facebook page Wednesday. “Yesterday we lost one of our own. … Felipe became a part of the Roost family two years ago, he and his wife would come in and clean, it was then when his wife suggested we hire Felipe as a server … that was the best decision we could have made. He worked hard and smiled harder.”

Cuahuizo was the sole wage earner for his wife and four children, prompting Guzman to start an online fund-raiser in hopes of helping the family. So far, more than $14,000 has been raised toward a $20,000 goal, including several generous contributions from some of the people he served. Donations are also being accepted in person at both Manhattan of the Desert and The Roost.

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