By Rachel Holt

QUINCY (CBS) – A surprise Christmas bonus for staff at Alba in Quincy and Alba on 53 in Hanover. Leo Keka owns both locations and like many restaurant owners, he’s had a tough year, with sales at Alba down 15 to 20 percent. Still, he wanted to do something to give back to his 125 employees

“A lot of our staff has been there 15-20 years so we wanted to do something for them this year because I know most of them haven’t been able to work as much and make the same living they were making before,” Keka explained. So he donated $35,000 to his staff, using a portion of the proceeds from gift cards.

READ MORE: 2 Massachusetts Men Killed In Fiery Las Vegas Crash

Manager at Alba on 53 Taso Pesirides explained, “we all came in Christmas Eve ready to go to work and Leo had me write out a bunch of checks. I go ‘who are all of these checks for?’ He goes ‘all of the employees.’ I say, ‘all of them?’ He said, ‘yeah.’ So I handed them out to everybody.”

Alba Restaurant owner Leo Keka (WBZ-TV)

He added, “I said, ‘are you sure you want to do this?’ He said, ‘absolutely, it’s a Merry Christmas to everybody. Thank you for all of the hard work you guys have done.’ We were very excited.”

READ MORE: Annissa Essaibi George: Any Suggestions Of Ties To Donald Trump Are 'Gross Statement'

Keka said, “Most of the staff here is dropping their sales and paychecks. They’re not making the money they used to make. So I was hoping to pitch in a little bit.”

Keka moved to the US from Albania 30 years ago, on December 17, 1990. So, to celebrate the anniversary, he donated a portion of all gift cards sold this year from the 17th to Christmas Eve.

“I personally celebrated 30 years in this country and it was a big day for me,” Keka said. “I’m proud to be an American and one thing I learned about America- it’s the country of giving. So when I came to this country I was given a ticket to come over and I always know you can always count on America.”

MORE NEWS: Westboro Wrong-Way Crash Leaves Multiple People With Serious Injuries

“They were so thankful,” Pesirides said. “They could buy extra presents this year for their friends and family. It was a very good moment for everybody.”

Rachel Holt