BLUE CORN CAFE Husband-and-wife team Antonio Rios and Danielle Martini-Rios opened Latin American restaurant Blue Corn Cafe on Ninth Street in Durham in 1997. Shortly after Gov. Roy Cooper mandated a statewide shutdown in March, the restaurant began providing meals to front-line workers at Duke Health. As of mid-July, Blue Corn Cafe has catered for workers at Duke HomeCare & Hospice, Duke Department of Surgery and Duke Regional Hospital’s emergency department. They have also provided discounted catering for the City of Durham’s COVID-19 tracing team. After one particular drop-off, Danielle received an email from Iyanna Streeter, a nurse at Duke Regional, that read: “I received the chips and salsa … it came right on time for me. I’m having a pretty rough night, and the bag of chips and salsa really help[ed] to turn it around.”
BAR VIRGILE This restaurant and bar in downtown Durham normally serves craft cocktails alongside an everrotating menu, so they understand the unique challenges faced by service industry employees during the pandemic. Currently only open for curbside pickup, Bar Virgile has also added a special option to their limited menu: a Shift Burger with fries, free for any service industry workers. Just call 20 minutes ahead of time.
RADIUS The Hillsborough restaurant’s “Pie It Forward” program allows individuals or companies to purchase a bulk order of pizzas at a discount to be delivered to an organization or nonprofit, such as the UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus (pictured) or Durham Rescue Mission. To date, Radius has delivered more than $4,000 worth of pizzas to the community. Visit radiuspizzeria. net/pieitforward to donate.
RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE OF CHAPEL HILL’S RESTAURANT PARTNERS Because the House is still unable to welcome any of their regular meal team volunteers, local restaurants have stepped up to provide fresh dishes for families staying there. Jersey Mike’s, The Pizza Press, bartaco, Four Corners, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, City Barbeque, Moe’s Southwest Grill, elements, Chimney Indian Kitchen & Bar, Beau Catering and more have all donated meals.
THE PICNIC BASKET CATERING The Chapel Hill catering company offers the option to buy a “thank you” meal for health care providers. They have pledged to match and donate one meal for every four meals purchased. As of mid-August, The Picnic Basket Catering donated 98 family meals of four and 562 lunches to health care heroes, 25 Mother’s Day dinners to the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill and some 20,000 meals to the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service. Visit contactfreedinner.com to contribute.
ZAMBRERO In a partnership with international hunger relief nonprofit Rise Against Hunger, the Mexican food chain has donated a meal to someone in need for every burrito or bowl purchased since the first location opened in Australia in 2005. This Plate 4 Plate program has already provided more than 40 million meals to communities across Africa, Asia and the Americas. Purchase a burrito or bowl at the newly opened Zambrero at University Hill in Durham to help the eatery reach the global goal of 1 billion donated meals by 2025.
Wanting to do its part, Makus Empanadas launched a Pay-It Forward initiative at the start of the pandemic: When guests purchase a dozen empanadas, they receive a dozen free and are encouraged to gift the extra to at-risk individuals, such as front-line health care workers, the immunocompromised and the elderly. Thanks to loyal customers, the restaurant has already donated more than 10,000 empanadas to those in need as of August.
The Cuban restaurant in downtown Durham launched its 50 Meals a Day Program in a partnership with the Durham Community Food Pantry and Upstream Works Collaborative near the end of July. For every $12 donated, COPA invests $1 in local farms, $0.84 to the administrative fees of Upstream Works and $10 for ingredients purchased from small, local farms; living-wage labor; and COPA’s electricity, water and rent. Up to six days per week, the Durham Community Food Pantry helps COPA distribute up to 50 meals at a time to those in need. To donate and help COPA reach its goal of feeding 300 hungry Durham residents each week, visit copadurham.com/partnering-with-upstream-works.
VIMALA’S CURRYBLOSSOM CAFE
HELP FOR HILLSBOROUGH
The Chapel Hill restaurant is committed to covering the payroll costs of its hardworking team during the pandemic and continuing the practice of paid sick leave for workers. The restaurant asked for donations in order to maintain that goal and, as of August, had raised about $10,000, says coowner Rush Greenslade. Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe is also moving forward with its mission to help others, handing out $1,000 grants to a few Chapel Hill “family-owned restaurants with food justice values,” feeding refugee families and providing meals to health care workers with funding from the North Carolina Heathcare Association. Visit curryblossom.com to donate directly through PayPal.
Two fundraising campaigns have raised money to support Hillsborough workers who have lost a significant portion of their income due to the pandemic. In an effort called Hillsborough Strong, The Wooden Nickel Pub publicly provided a list of the Venmo information of nearly 150 service workers – from servers and bartenders to hair stylists and cashiers – who need support at this time. Additionally, the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce’s Hillsborough Hospitality Help (HHH) GoFundMe supports displaced workers of Hillsborough businesses. As of mid-July, the two campaigns have donated more than $25,000 to workers in the community. Donate at gofundme.com/f/hillsborough-hospitality-help. 51
The Food and Drink Issue