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Beltline Uccellos giving back to community during pandemic

Posted at 9:55 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 09:15:49-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A lot of businesses are using this time to give back to those who are negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Some are helping their employees, and others are offering freebies to customers.

At Uccello's on the East Beltline, owner Faro Uccello is giving away free food to people in need. All people have to do is drive up.

Shametris Cotton lost two jobs and is now taking care of two kids and her mother.

“We’re getting low on food. We get government assistance but and it only lasts for so long. And to know that we can come out to get food to last us for a day and not have to worry about tomorrow, and not worry about today, that’s amazing and they’re doing a good deed," Cotton said.

Like hundreds of others, she waited more than 40 minutes for a meal Thursday afternoon. The line at the restaurant backed up traffic on the Beltline.

Uccello has been making and giving away free food all week. Customers can choose between a pizza, breadsticks or pasta and get bottles of soda while the supply lasts. So far, about $40,000 in food has been given away.

Uccello opened a window in his banquet room and turned it into a drive-through. He even made a pizza slide so workers didn't have to get too close to customers.

“It’s pretty remarkable how many people really have been affected by things lately and how many people heard about what’s going on and wanted to come out. It’s been overwhelmingly positive so far," said marketing manager Kelsey Neuberger.

Workers can see the need right in front of them as car after car comes through the drive-through with people asking for help.

The Beltline location is the only one offering the free food, which will run again from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. However, all locations are offering free lunch to first responders.

The company has also set up a GoFundMe to help out its hospitality workers.