GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of schools, businesses and restaurants, the Garage Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids quickly found a way to help feed families who were struggling.
"We partnered with a bunch of great groups, Car City, Mercantile Bank, Pioneer Construction, Custer, and a couple of others and basically raised about $30,000 bucks," explained Kevin Farhat, owner of The Garage Bar. "And we said, how many meals can we serve?"
Farhat and his staff lauched a program called "Garage Bar Cares", aiming to provide 100 free meals a day for 30 days to people in need, no questions asked. But each time Governor Gretchen Whitmer decided to extend the Stay at Home Order, Farhat said they decided to extend the program as well.
"You know they came in droves... it ended up to be around $57, 000 dollars in food, and about almost 6,000 free meals," he said. "Towards the end there, we started reaching out to some of the first responders, police, fire department, EMTs and nurses."
The meals provided some much needed help, while also keeping his staff working.
"We're breaking bread with people, and in our case it's burgers and fries and chicken tenders, but at the end of the day we're happy to do it," Farhat told FOX 17 News. "When you're serving 100 free meals a day, you need servers to serve it, cooks to cook it, dishwashers to do the dishes and somebody to run it, so it kept us busy pretty much the whole time."
The generosity of the popular Grand Rapids bar hasn't gone unnoticed.
"Gratitude, love, thanks, support... a lot of people just wrote letters and notes and a little girl wanted to give her piggy bank money and that kind of stuff so it was kind off cool," he explained. "We're seeing a great response back from that. People that hadn't heard from us before, they're coming back in to support us."
Farhat added they wouldn't hesitate to do it again.
"At the end of the day, looking back on it, it's just a nice thing that we could help out," he said. "Hopefully we won't have another pandemic, but if something else arises, we'll be here."
Farhat said they were also fortunate to receive some money from the Payroll Protection Program to complete some renovations in the past few weeks.
As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Farhat is receiving a $300 prize.