COOKIES and KINDNESS: Luxor baker Mohammad Hashimi kept people calm and the pastries coming on a very difficult night
This is one fabulous baker boy.
“People came over here and they said, ‘There is a shooting outside, are you still baking?’” says Mohammad Hashimi about the tragic night of Oct. 1 2017, when the Luxor baker’s humanity sparkled amid the chaos.
That night, the Afghanistan-born pooh-bah of pastries calmed concertgoers hustled over from the Route 91 festival site with what he does best: crafting scrumptious treats. Music did not hath charms to soothe the savage breast that night, but food did hath tastes to soothe the rattled soul.
“That was part of my job and part of my humanity,” says Hashimi, 64, who was honored for both his job and his humanity by being named a “Hospitality Hero” by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).
“The reason for our work, the goal for it, is to serve the people. That’s why I thought it was part of my job to help them.”
Gentle words and caloric goodies were the recipe for reassurance when Catherine and Tyson Fritz first arrived, alarmed and confused, at the Luxor basement hallway in a bid for safety. Noticing an open door marked “bakery” they peeked inside and saw Mohammad baking away.
“He stopped what he was doing and took the time to show us around the bakery and offered possible hiding spots should we need them, if the gunman was on foot and entered the basement,” the couple wrote in a letter to the Luxor, praising Mohammad for his above-and-beyond care. “He then got us water and showed us the exit door at the end of the hallway, should we need to escape, then assured us that we would be OK.”
Throngs of those fleeing the shooting site soon swelled the crowd into the hundreds, most sitting outside the bakery for the next seven hours when the Strip went on lockdown. While Luxor security personnel distributed towels, blankets, pillows and sheets so exhausted, frightened concertgoers could grab some catnaps, Mohammad kept serving up racks of cookies, croissants, doughnuts and Danish. “Each time he stepped out to get another baking rack, he would ask if we were OK and if we needed anything,” the Fritzes wrote.
Cited for his service and his warmth as a Hospitality Hero, Mohammad, a 25-year employee, attributes his display of humanity that night to a simple credo. “Why shouldn’t I offer them something other than my hand?” he says. “I am one of them so I am respecting them the same way.”
Being shaped by the strife-riven region from which he hails, he says, only adds to his sense of empathy. “I came from a part of the world where people are suffering a lot,” he says. “Any little thing touches my heart. Even if it’s one word or a smile that makes other people smile, that makes me happy.”
“Hospitality Heroes” is a program created by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), in conjunction with the U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel and Tourism Week, celebrated annually in May. The LVCVA and its tourism partners honor employees who deliver superior customer service. Since the program began in 2008, more than 500 “Hospitality Heroes” have been recognized in Southern Nevada.