US restaurant who survived pandemic on donations is now offering free meals with no conditions

A 16-year-old restaurant who survived the pandemic with donations has begun a free meal initiative to feed the community.

Anyone can walk into the restaurant in Norfolk, Virginia pull a ticket off the “Franks for Friends” bulletin board and exchange it for a menu item.

“Maybe Covid hit them really hard, or they’re in between jobs or maybe they’re taking a meal for their neighbor,” Tarah Morris, the owner of Perfectly Frank said.

The idea for “Franks for Friends” began with a single donation.

After reopening the restaurant to in-person dining, Morris said community donations decreased as people felt a sense of normalcy.

But her staff were struggling to make ends meet.

A friend and longtime customer donated $2,000 to the restaurant, asking that $100 went to each staff member and the rest went to feeding the community. With $700 left over, Morris began to give away free meals.

The initiative evolved quickly. Customers began donating, too. A bulletin board was put up. A clipboard was designated.

Hot dogs, salads and melts populate Perfectly Frank’s extensive menu but cheeseburgers are the most popular items.

Morris said that the surplus of donated meals is so large, she can’t foresee an end. She hopes to partner with more local organizations to give away bulk meals.

The restaurant is already preparing bulk orders for local after-school programs twice a week.