Clearly, Plano restaurants have been hurt due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent loss of dine-in business. Nevertheless, many put their own challenges aside and offered support to our local community, feeding first responders, health care workers and those who couldn’t afford buying a meal. By either offering sponsorship opportunities or donating food out of their own budgets, these restaurants made a difference, one meal at a time.
Better Than Sex Desserts offered free pasta meals bi-weekly for anyone in need. These dishes were new creations, as Better Than Sex Desserts does not offer savory food on its regular menu. Affected neighbors could ring the storefront’s doorbell to receive hot meals, no questions asked.
“We have had so many people tell us how grateful they are, either due to limited funds, working extra hours on the front lines, or single parents who are exhausted and overwhelmed now playing teacher at home. Just having dinner off their plate gave them the bandwidth to keep fighting through this,” owner Sheila Phalen-Miller said.
Mudleaf Coffee has been bringing a little sweetness to hospitals, nursing homes, fire and police stations across North Texas. The Plano coffee shop gave customers the chance to purchase coffee and cookies for first responders. So far the coffee shop has delivered 29 dozen cookies and 29 boxes of coffee to hospitals including Baylor Scott & White and Medical City Plano. It also handed out a few bundles to customers to deliver to smaller hospitals where their loved ones work. Seven of the latest bundles went to Medical City Plano’s night shift, a group that does not often receive the same amount of treats as their day shift counterparts. Mudleaf also delivered 11 dozen cookies to assisted living homes, one in Plano and another in Dallas. Thirty-two firefighter and police bundles have been purchased for Plano Stations 2, 4 and 12.
Married to a Dallas firefighter, Mudleaf owner Kat Smith said that she quickly realized, “The safest way to get it to the first responders was to email all of their stations and let them know they can come pick up a drink and cookie anytime.”
Friend & Foe Board Game Café allowed customers and businesses to purchase a meal for a first responder in April. By purchasing a $8 classic sandwich, served with chips and a pickle, guests provided a meal for health care workers and first responders in Plano and the surrounding area. Friend & Foe posted on Facebook that it was able to donate meals to Baylor Scott & White Health Family Medicine Clinic in Plano April 10 and 200 meals to Children’s Health Plano later in the month.
For every two box lunches sold, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse donated one to a first responder or an essential worker, allowing customers to give back. Plano General Manager Stephanie Conder announced on Facebook in mid-April that the steakhouse delivered 100 meals to first responders at Children’s Health in Plano through the box lunch program, along with monetary donations.
Thanks to a $50,000 donation from AMN Healthcare, Plano’s Haywire restaurant committed to feeding health care employees throughout North Texas. According to a press release, Haywire will provide meals for first responders at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, Parkland Memorial Hospital and Plano Presbyterian in the next few weeks.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to partner with AMN Healthcare to help feed those serving on the frontlines in our community,” said Haywire Vice President of Operations Judd Fruia via press release. “These incredible health care professionals continue to inspire us with their unwavering dedication to patient care. We are all in this journey together and we will continue to serve in whatever way possible.”
In-Fretta has a history of serving its community. Once owner Ram Mehta opened In-Fretta’s doors in 2018, he created a standing rule: Food would be available to families who needed it, no questions asked. With so many affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, In-Fretta expanded on that by ensuring that not only families had pizza, but that healthcare employees and first responders were also fed. The New York style pizza joint has provided food for groups like Baylor Scott & White as well as Plano-Fire Rescue.
Ram has now teamed up with other local businesses like Sara’s Market & Bakery and 1 Solar Solution to start the movement #EveryoneEatz, bringing free meals to families in Dallas, Allen and surrounding cities. Organizers for the May 15 event plan to distribute 6,000 free meals and masks, with COVID-19 testing available as well.
Another Plano restaurant is making a difference throughout the entire Metroplex. The Port of Peri Peri committed to supplying 20,000 free meals a month to anyone in need with its #MealPort community initiative. The restaurant announced on Facebook locations where it would hand out meals daily from 1 to 2 p.m. After 2 p.m., the restaurant said any remaining meals were donated to different drop-off areas including Boys & Girls Club of Collin County and Hope’s Door New Beginning Center.
Working on a national scale, Lazy Dog Restaurant launched its Frontline Worker campaign, giving customers the chance to purchase meals for those fighting against COVID-19. Each meal, which can be purchased for $10, will be from its rotating menu, ensuring frontliners will be able to enjoy fresh, unique dishes. The Plano location announced on Facebook that this campaign has already provided meals to hospitals throughout the country. For specific location requests, email Community@LazyDogRestaurants.com after purchasing your meals.
Norma’s Café created its Favor A Neighbor campaign the first week of the shutdown so that individuals or companies had the chance to sponsor meals for others. Norma’s is delivering meals to local hospitals, clinics, fire and police stations, first responders, senior centers and shelters like Our Calling, Dallas 24 Hour Club, City House and Genesis Women’s Shelter. If customers have a specific benefactor, like a certain hospital or nonprofit in mind, they can list an organization for consideration. Norma’s recently announced that it is teaming up with Special Olympics athletes to raise awareness for its Favor a Neighbor campaign and will feed local law enforcement officers during the month of May.
“Norma’s Cafe has always been very charitable. It has always been a huge pillar for Norma’s,” Marketing Director Katy Anderson says. “We want to be a part of our communities, kind of like those diners in the ’50s.”