AUSTIN, Texas - Each day the large white sign on the corner of West 5th and Campbell has a new message. Typically, a timely joke.
This Saturday the restaurant broke tradition. There was no joke on the sign. Still, it’s timely message drew a crowd. "Free family meals today for anyone who needs it. Just come on by!" it read.
"We’re doing 1,250 family meals. It’ll feed about four people each, so our goal is to feed 5,000 people." restaurant co-owner Ellis Winstanley told FOX 7 Austin.
Winstanley says the undertaking required more than twenty staff members and "every" grill in the house. He estimates it cost the restaurant around $25,000. It’s money they chose to spend, even though the restaurant recently switched to to-go only orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 around the
"It was just an opportunity for us to try to take care of the community, I mean we’ve been really lucky that people have been super supportive of us this year." said Winstanley. He hopes to give some of that support back at a time when the community needs it most. An estimated 66 percent of Americans lost their unemployment benefits Saturday.
"You could just kind of feel the air being let out of the balloon a little bit on top of what’s already been a rough year. We just thought you know this is something we can actually accomplish and why not take the opportunity? You only get so many opportunities in life to try to really help people."
Among those helped, lifelong Austinite Alejandro Hernandez. "I think it’s awesome, I think it’s like the Christmas spirit!" he said.
Hernandez was one of thousands to receive a freshly cooked meal of chicken, rice, beans and salsa Saturday. "I’m really happy, not only is it free food, but it’s free really good food, so I’m stoked to eat this." he laughed.