Pittsburgh’s Restaurant Community Steps Up To Help
From meals to support fellow service industry workers to pay-what-you-can relief for neighbors in need, here are a few ways local restaurateurs are feeding people.
The workforce of the restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurant and bar workers often don’t have health insurance and typically work for tips. Perhaps because of this vulnerability, these workers have also been some of the first to mobilize relief to those in need. From offering food on a sliding scale to providing free meals, here are a few operations set up by Pittsburgh service industry folk to help during this time of uncertainty.
Free meals with Curtis Gamble and Joey Hilty, owners of Station and The Vandal
On Monday, March 23, Gamble and Hilty launched a free, pick-up meal service for anyone in need. The pair will run this service Wednesday, March 25 and Friday, March 27 from 5-8 p.m. from The Vandal in Lawrenceville. In the coming weeks, they’ll be developing plans to extend their reach.
“There hasn’t been a unifying moment like this for the restaurant industry,” said Hilty. “Curtis and I just said, ‘Look, we’re not going to make any money on takeout. It’s a bandaid for a bullet wound.’ The most responsible thing we can do right now is to put the resources where they are needed.”
The pair plan to make about 100 meals a night. Each meal will have a vegetarian option. As well as using their own stocks of food from their restaurants, Gamble and Hilty are receiving food donations from Gordon Food Services and Monteverde’s Produce. The operation is also accepting financial contributions through Venmo @Joey-Hilty-1
To pick-up food from The Vandal, text Hilty at 412/616-1212 with your name and what time you’d like to pick-up. Gamble and Hilty will be timing pick-ups to ensure social distancing. As the project moves forward, they’ll be publishing updates through The Vandal’s Instagram.
Pay-hat-you-can community kitchen with Menuette
Menuette is now offering a community kitchen that services South Pittsburgh and the South Hills. The store offers a small selection of soups, such as greens and beans and chicken and dumplings, by the quart, to be delivered through a contactless delivery service every Monday. Orders must be placed through the restaurant’s online store by Friday each week. Soups are pay-what-you-can, with the idea that the purchases by people who can afford to pay the full price can support the needs of those who cannot. Pay-what-you-can pricing applies to individual items but a subscription service at a fixed price is also available.
600 Brookline Blvd., Brookline; menuettepgh.com
Free meals at People’s Indian Restaurant
Last week, People’s Indian Restaurant announced via its Facebook page that the restaurant will offer free meals to those in need. The restaurant staff is packing takeout lunch boxes of chicken curry, chickpeas and rice that are available for pick-up. Pick-up times are Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. To get a meal, call 412-661-3160.
5147 Penn Ave., Garfield; 412/661-3160, peoplesindian.com
Free meals at The Warren
Starting on Friday, March 20, The Warren Bar and Burrow began offering 100 free meals every day for service industry employees with proof of bar or restaurant employment. The meals are packaged for takeout with a pick-up window of 7- 9 p.m.
Owner Spencer Warren has teamed up with local restaurants such as Meat & Potatoes, Atria’s, Point Brugge, Bar Marco and others for food and labor donations.
Everyone who comes by for a takeout pick-up will receive a meal and those over 21 will get a free shot of a donated spirit if they want one. Kids meals will also be provided. Warren intends to provide this service for at least two weeks..
The Warren will be accepting monetary and food donations, as well as donations of to-go containers through the website.
245 7th St., Downtown; 412/201-5888, thewarrenpgh.com
A note: For those in ongoing need, Just Harvest is assisting people over the phone with applications for the Supplemental Nutritional Benefits Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. To receive help, visit its website and fill out the online form.
Additionally, a continually updated map lists free food distribution sites by geographical area. Some pick-up points may have specific requirements for eligibility.