SUFFOLK, Va. — The food service industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. But amid its own challenges, a local restaurant is focusing on the needs of its community.
Kati Newman is the Special Events Coordinator and Marketing Director if River Stone Chophouse in Suffolk. The restaurant took to social media to reach the economic victims of the crisis.
“Everybody's at home. So, everybody's on Facebook, Instagram,” Newman said. "And so, we're trying to use all those platforms to get the information out."
For the last two Fridays, River Stone Chophouse has teamed up with Vintage Tavern and Decoys Seafood to hand out about 4,500 free meals -- no questions asked -- as part of a "Community Give Back" initiative. They plan to give out meals every Friday until further notice.
“This gives an opportunity for our employees to be able to come and volunteer and do this and we can come together, but it also ensures that the community is fed at the same time,” said Newman. “To do this opportunity for our community is just who our owners are. It's who our employees are... we want to see the faces. We want to make people happy. We’re just doing everything one day at a time and hoping that we're gonna be able to make a difference.”
River Stone Chophouse has also launched a program in which customers can order boxed lunches for the medical staff, first responders, or local business employees of their choice. The restaurant takes care of delivery to ensure it’s safe.
“It's like serving your family. So, you want to be as safe as possible. They're our front lines, and we know that we can safely do that for them,” said Newman. “And it's been a joy to those people in the homes that have been able to give that opportunity for them.”
Newman said the restaurant hopes these efforts send a message to the community that, even during this challenging time, River Stone Chophouse is still here to serve.
“We will continue to do all these efforts and come up with new incentive-type things as time progresses,” said Newman. “But we're gonna be stronger when it's all said and done. We came in strong, we're gonna come out of this very, even more strong.”
Vintage Tavern in Suffolk, one of River Stone Chophouse’s sister restaurants, is also offering family-sized preordered meals at a discounted price from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. daily to help people facing financial challenges. To contact Vintage Tavern, visit www.vintagetavernvirginia.com or www.facebook.com/VintageTavern/.