By Kevin Collison
There has been a lot of generous community response to the Covid-19 pandemic locally, but it would be hard to top the The Regier when it comes to an industrial-strength outpouring of good will–and free food.
Since mid-March, the fine dining restaurant at 1924 Main has transformed itself into the Crossroads Community Kitchen, preparing from 500 to up to 1,000 meals daily free to anyone who’s hungry.
“We wanted to do something a little different that we thought would be a service to the community,” said Kyle Bennett, general manager.
“We decided to pivot from serving curbside meals and move straight to the Crossroads Community Kitchen.”
Supported by a Go Fund Me campaign, food donations and other help, the restaurant has managed to keep its 30 employees busy preparing hundreds of meals seven days a week.
“Unfortunately, all of us took a pay decrease but this gives us something to do, keeps our spirits high, keeps us humble and keeps us busy making a little bit of money,” Bennett said.
“More importantly, we’re able to feed people.”
The kitchen opens at 10 a.m. and the meals are provided in bulk quantities to agencies including the City Union Mission, other homeless agencies, senior centers, hospitals, and from 4- to 6 p.m. to anyone who shows up at their door.
Head chef and Rieger owner Howard Hanna and his assistant chefs Adam Yoder and Sam Hall use whatever foodstuffs are available to prepare tasty, nutritious meals.
“They’re extremely talented,” Bennett said. “We’re not picky about donations and even with less than ideal ingredients they turn our really great food.”
The Crossroads Community Kitchen will continue operating until The Rieger owners believe it’s safe to reopen the restaurant and welcome back their regular customers.
Bennett said the experience of helping people during the current crisis will linger, though.
“All of us have found joy in what we’re doing serving the community,” he said. “Everything that we’ve been doing has opened us to the wider community issues of homelessness and food insecurity.
“I’m personally much more aware of it now.”
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