How NJ Restaurants Are Giving Back in the Age of Coronavirus

Meal donations to food pantries, shelters, hospitals, out-of-work restaurant staff and more.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

As the coronavirus continues to delay the longed-for “return to normal,” New Jersey restaurants are showing just how deep their roots go. Not only are many restaurants throughout the Garden State staying open despite financial hardship (offering discount menu prices for razor-thin profit margins), some are giving back—providing free meals, sandwiches, and even food pantry donations to hospital workers and those most in need. Because nothing heals the heart like good news, here’s a small round-up of just a few New Jersey restaurants going above and beyond to support their COVID-impacted communities:

Liberty Hall Pizza in Lambertville closed to customers due to COVID-19, but they’re still making pizza for regular donation to the Delaware Valley Food Pantry (#PizzaforthePantry). As Liberty Hall co-owner Chris Bryan said in a recent Instagram post, “Keep donating, we’ll keep making pizzas.” Donations are continuing, including a large freezer recently donated by Modern Recycled Spaces out of Hamilton.

—Seadon Shouse likes to get (lovingly) meticulous with ingredients for his hyper-seasonal menus at Halifax in Hoboken, but during COVID-19, he’s sending those ingredients out where they’re needed most. After seeing an Instagram post from The Hoboken Shelter saying they were low on supplies, Shouse responded with stock from his kitchen: apples, greens, cheese, later sending eggs, potatoes, milk. You can donate directly to The Hoboken Shelter via text (texting “GIVE” to 201-733-4196) as well as on their website.

—Marisol and Demetri Malki of De Novo in Montclair are paying it forward in a very unique—and much needed way—donating 100 percent of their takeout sales to the restaurant employees. Per the Instagram post, “As of Tuesday, March 24, @denovomontclair will be donating 100% of our sales (to make it clear not our profit but our actual sales) to make sure all our employees are able to pay their rent, their utilities, their medical expenses, their nutrition! @denovomontclair will be absorbing all related expenses such as food, utilities, insurance… all overhead!”

—While David Burke’s spirits supplier, Nauti Sprits Distillery is turning their taps to the production of hand sanitizer, the Jersey-born chef himself has turned one of his kitchen’s to helping the helpers: David Burke at Orange Lawn has begun donating meals to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. “We’re sending food to Saint Barnabas Hospital,” Burke told us in a recent interview. The first round of meals totaled 180; second round, 386; and the third round, 561. The restaurant posted a picture of the kinds of meals they’re packing up for the 320 or so hospital employees.

Ome Caterers in Whippany recently made a swap to Ome at Home, offering delivery of pantry staples and meal kits. Regular customers get 20 percent off their first order, and they’re offering 50 percent off to employees they themselves have had to lay off. They’re also donating $1 for every meal sold to Feed America.

—A smaller outfit is doing its best to help a local hospital: Juicy Platters in Hackensack is giving one free meal to all hospital workers at Hackensack Medical Center. Owner Jaffar Wahdat put out a touching video message on Instagram explaining he has a sister working in an E.R. in Philadelphia, so he knows what these workers are up against. Healthcare workers can register for their free meal here, and anyone in delivery/pick-up distance of the Harrison, Hackensack, or Fair Lawn locations can order some falafel or a gyro platter to support “Juicy Jaffar” and his business.

Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick is offering a free meal for out-of-work New Brunswick restaurant employees, and will be sending 75 meals each to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital and St. Peter’s University Staff to help the staff battling COVID-19. “We’re just hoping we can spread a little bit of good will during these highly stressful times,” says general manager Chris Tobia.

Robbie Felice, chef/owner of Viaggio and Osteria Crescendo, posted on Instagram announcing he was going to be “making as much pasta as I possibly can” to feed doctors and nurses at Chilton Medical Center, Englewood Hospital and more.

Mighty Quinn’s BBQ started in the East Village, but there are now two Jersey locations—Paramus and Clifton—and that’s good news for nearby hospital workers. Mighty Quinn’s is offering a free sandwich to anyone with a hospital ID. They fed 500 hospital employees in their first week.

Ani Ramen will be re-opening temporarily as Rock City Pizza Co., a nonprofit restaurant serving Detroit pizza and Thai-spiced rotisserie chicken for takeout. Meals will be sold at a reduced rate and customers will be able to buy meals to donate at an additional discount.

—And in an era of doing good, Bryan Morin of Federico’s in Belmar did something above and beyond: Morin took out $50,000 line of credit to continue playing all of his roughly 20 employees for up to two months. Federico’s has received an outpouring of love in response—there’s a place to donate set-up on the restaurant’s main page, though of course you could share the love by ordering a pie.

Additional reporting contributed by Table Hopping editor Shelby Vittek.

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