As restaurants prepare for what looks to be a long haul of takeout and deliveries, some places are reaching out to provide healthcare workers and those in need with free or discounted meals.
CJ’s American Grill in Mattituck is donating 300 meals to CAST to feed people who need it.
“The community has supported us for six years,” said Chris Richards, who owns the restaurant along with his wife, Joanne. “Now, more than anything, the community needs us. Everybody out here needs to help each other.”
After having a couple of catering events cancelled, the pair decided to repurpose the ingredients they bought to help those who could use it.
“I did 130 meals this morning for CAST in Greenport. Now, I’m doing 110 turkey dinners, fresh mashed potatoes, cranberries,” Chris said Friday. “I’m going to deliver them there tomorrow morning, Sunday morning I’m going to do the same thing.”
The restaurant has also rolled out what they are calling the Bilotti stimulus package, named after bartender Sandra Bilotti, who has had to stay at home to take care of her children while her wife works at Peconic Bay Medical Center as a surgical nurse.
“All hospital workers, law enforcement officers, firemen and all town employees from Southold to Riverhead will get a 50 percent discount that will be applied to your take-out order,” a post on their Facebook page read. Both Joanne and Chris Richards said this has spurred more people to pay it forward.
“I was just on the phone with a woman who wanted to give us her credit card information, so the next first responder that comes in, she wants to pay for their meal,” Joann said. “It keeps going and going.”
CJ’s isn’t the only place on the North Fork giving back to healthcare workers.
Cooperage Inn in Baiting Hollow has been providing 30 hot meals to the COVID team at Peconic Bay Medical Center. After making the tough decision to close his doors on Monday, owner Jonathan Perkins, along with his wife Rene, got an email from the hospital asking if they would be available to feed the healthcare workers.
“They are limited on what they can eat because everything is shut down there, and they just can’t keep going to Taco Bell,” Perkins said. “So I said, ‘I’m going to provide you nice meals indefinitely, and I’m not going to charge you.”
This made him decide to open Cooperage Inn back up for takeout and bring some of his kitchen staff to help out with the donated and pickup orders.
“My purpose of that was to supply a little bit of money to my kitchen guys, who are dying right now with no pay,” Perkins said. “I’m really excited and happy that I am able to do this for them.”
Lucharitos is also helping out the community in its own way. After receiving a donation to the restaurant of $500, owner Marc LaMaina decided to match that donation and give out 20 $50 gift cards from his restaurant, which is doing takeout and delivery, to families in need.
“We are working through our own line of friends and families to connect to families in need,” he said. “We want to make sure they get out there ASAP.”
Chris Richards summed everything up, saying that now is his time to give back to a community that has always given to his business.
“If it wasn’t for the people coming to my restaurant, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “So now is a chance for me to turn around and say, ‘Thank you.'”