Andersonville restaurant provides free meals for service workers amid coronavirus outbreak

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Andersonville restaurant, Vincent, is providing fellow service employees with free, packaged meals amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to regular take-out orders, at least 80 meals will be distributed to anyone in need who comes by to pick them up after 5 p.m.

"We're in the industry that is being shut down and a lot of the workers are people that don't have 401(k) [plan] or savings, even, or anything but an hourly salary," Vincent owner Michael Bransford said. "If you can make a donation of $5 that's great, but if you can't that's okay too."

Sunday, the state of Illinois mandated delivery and take-out only service for restaurants. As a result, hundreds of restaurants around the city have had to close or lay-off employees.

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"There's a huge effect on the income of cooks and dishwashers, and all the support staff the front of the house and clearly tipped employees have the same problem," said Laura Piper, owner and executive chef of One North Restaurant and Bar. "Everyone's in need."

Piper is one of many nearby restaurants of food vendors who have supported Vincent's mission and donated extra food.

"What we're trying to do is make a staff meal or family meal like we do as restaurants all over the city, all the time, called 'Comida'" said Jake Chappell, Vincent executive chef. "It's something we make as nutritious and nutrient-dense as possible."

Elderly people in the neighborhood can also partake as Vincent will deliver to near-by neighbors who can't leave their homes.

Bransford said they'll try to serve the meals as long as they can, but it will all depend on how things progress with the coronavirus pandemic.

"The places I lived before didn't have what Andersonville has, which is a sense of 'neighbor'," Bransford said. "I see most of the same people every day and they take care of you. Any time they need help, I want to help as much as I can."

Jalyn Henderson is a Community Journalist at ABC 7 Chicago. She tells stories on the north side of Chicago in neighborhoods like Uptown, Edgewater, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, West Ridge and Rogers Park. If you have a story to share in these neighborhoods you can send an email to Jalyn.L.Henderson@abc.com
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