Struggling to stay afloat, restaurant owners listed a rare bourbon for $20,000. A veteran bought it for $40,000

Suzanne and Roger Perry listed this 25-year-old bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon for $20,000. A local veteran bought it for double the asking price to help support their restaurants.

(CNN)Like many in the restaurant industry, Suzanne and Roger Perry saw their business -- Datz Restaurant Group in Tampa, Florida -- take a huge hit because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Across the US, states have ordered the closure of bars and restaurants to help curb the spread of the virus. Some restaurants have completely shut down, others have transitioned to pick-up or delivery only, and a handful have resorted to creative options -- including selling groceries or including toilet paper in their food orders -- to keep their businesses afloat.
As a result of such restrictions on the restaurant industry, Datz Restaurant Group went from close to 400 employees to just 27, and the Perrys said they were running out of money to keep even their skeleton staff paid.
"(Our employees are) family now," Suzanne Perry told CNN. "We've watched their children grow up and they've done absolutely nothing wrong, but we can't protect them. There's absolutely nothing we can do. We can't pay people when we have no revenue."
So as a last resort, the couple decided to sell the most valuable item in the restaurant's inventory: A 25-year-old bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon.
"I Googled it to see what the prices were online and I saw anywhere from $17,000 to $26,000 online," Suzanne Perry said. "So I listed it for $20,000, and offered a 15% discount online."
Offers for the rare spirit started rolling in, but most were much less than the $20,000 they were asking for.
"I was selling it in order to maintain my staff for a few more weeks until we can get through this and figure it out so I didn't entertain any of those low-ball offers," Suzanne Perry said said.
But then, the Perrys received a call from a local couple who frequented their restaurants.
"A woman called and I spoke to her husband," Suzanne Perry told CNN. "He's a veteran. He appreciates bourbon and he wanted to add it in his collection and they decided that they would purchase it. We were very happy about that."
Instead of buying it online, however, the man insisted that he would buy it in person with a cashier's check.
"He drove it in the next morning and handed Roger the check," Suzanne Perry said. "Roger looked at it and saw that rather than what would have been $17,000 with the discount that we had offered, the check was written for $40,000."