Sometimes, in the midst of difficulty and disappointment, the right story comes along at just the right time.

This is that story.

It began less than two weeks ago when Joe Munoz Jr. discovered someone had broken a hole through the sign at his family’s Casa Munoz Mexican Restaurant on Union Avenue.

As if surviving during a COVID-19 lockdown wasn’t tough enough for local restaurants, Munoz thought, now this.

But like any good businessman, he called a sign company to get the sign repaired.

Then on Tuesday, something completely unexpected happened.

“When I got to work this morning,” Munoz told a reporter Tuesday night, "the sign was finished.

“I texted the sign company, telling them, ‘Great job!’”

"They texted back: 'What are you talking about?'

"The sign," Munoz replied. "It looks great."

The company texted back that they hadn't finished the sign.

Munoz was awestruck.

Somehow, some good Samaritan had recreated the sign to perfection, matching the font and the colors — and then installed the repair without the knowledge of the Munoz family.

"It blew me away," Munoz said.

Not only had the community reached out to the Munoz family with sympathy and love after news of the broken sign hit the streets, someone had gone beyond the call.

Casa Munoz posted the good news on its Facebook page Tuesday. And the crowd went wild.

"It looks like we have a new sign up! And to our surprise, we have NO IDEA who made this and put it up!" the restaurant posted.

"We truly are blessed to have some of the best customers in town! So, to whoever did this for us, THANK YOU!!"

The post continued: "There are no words for the gratitude we feel to whoever did this! We hope one day to find out who you are so we can repay you somehow!"

One customer called it a blessing.

People used words like awesome, and wonderful and "paying it forward."

"Just when you're about to lose hope for humanity ..." someone said.

On Wednesday, the Munoz family was back to work under the shining new sign at the restaurant that's served customers for 30 years.

Three generations gathered below the sign for a photo.

Joe Munoz Sr., 85, who has a lifetime of restaurant experience behind him, with 30 years at the historic Sinaloa, a decade at El Sombrero and 30 more years at Casa Munoz, said he was moved by the way repeat customers responded to the senseless vandalism of the sign.

"When you have people coming in and leaving 10 or 20 dollars at the register," he said, "it tells me a lot about my customers."

And that seemed to be one of the lessons Bakersfield residents were taking away from this astonishing episode. That despite the divisiveness, despite the ire, many locals still root for the underdog, they're still willing to share their neighbor's hardships and help ease their neighbor's pain.

"I'm glad this happened at a time like this," Joe Munoz said. "A little silver lining. Something like this can really brighten your day."

"Someone has gifted us a great Christmas present early," Munoz said. "This kind of thing lets you know there are really good people out there."

"It reinforces our faith in this community."

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

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