Raleigh entrepreneur G Patel

Hope In A Meal

In April 2020, Eat, Web Exclusive by Lauren Kruchten

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WEB EXCLUSIVE Food is essential; whether you’re working or unemployed at the moment, working from home or an essential employee, quarantining with your parents or with a significant other, we all need to eat. 

While many of his restaurants and businesses are currently closed, Raleigh entrepreneur Guarav “G” Patel began thinking of ways he could help hospitality workers who aren’t receiving any income right now and may not have the ability to feed themselves as often or as well as they’d like. At the end of March, Patel launched a campaign called Hope For Hospitality in an effort to provide meals for hospitality workers who are displaced due to COVID-19. 

“If I can provide a meal for individuals who are in need of it, I think that’s the minimum that I can do,” Patel says. “Let’s keep [hospitality workers] nourished so that when they come back to work, they’re not completely dried out.” 

Guarav "G" Patel with Jake Wood and Eddie Forbis of Lawrence Barbeuce
Guarav “G” Patel with Eddie Forbis and Jake Wood of Lawrence Barbeuce

A prominent figure in Raleigh’s hospitality sector, Patel partnered with fellow local restauranteurs to provide a different meal for hospitality workers each day of the week. Some restaurants, such as Lawrence Barbecue and Papa Murphy’s Pizza, began offering meals for the campaign on a weekly basis. Additional partner restaurants include Mulino, Raleigh Beer Garden, Edwards Mill Bar & Grill, Cantina 18, State of Beer, Sullivan’s Steakhouse and Diced

In order to secure a meal, hospitality workers fill out a form with their name, where they work, who their supervisor is and more before 2 p.m. to have their orders picked up between 4 and 6 p.m. Workers may order as many times a week as they need to. After just one week, Patel was able to feed almost 100 people, with the campaign quickly gaining traction throughout the Triangle.

As a thank you to the participating restaurants, Patel started a GoFundMe to generate funds for staff members and other critical needs. Patel hopes that the campaign will come full circle and those that participate will spread the word to others and inspire them to donate. “I don’t think [the partner restaurants] are doing it for the money, I think they’re just doing it for the good cause,” says Patel. “But every dollar counts these days.”

Additionally, NCFC is going to donate 5 percent of its net sales of merchandise through April and May to Patel’s GoFundMe page. So far, he’s raised $1,155 of his $15,000 goal.

Patel has also partnered with friend Jon Seelbinder, another prominent local entrepreneur and founder of Local Icon Hospitality, to help provide displaced hospitality workers with groceries and other essential items through the CARE.BOX initiative. Wine to Water founder Doc Hendley approached Seelbinder to establish a Raleigh chapter of CARE.BOX, with the goal of giving away 240,000 meals and hygiene materials to service industry workers affected by COVID-19.

Jon Seelbinder of Local Icon Hospitality with CARE.BOX volunteers
Jon Seelbinder of Local Icon Hospitality with CARE.BOX volunteers

Each CARE.BOX provides hospitality workers with a grocery box containing 40 meals (about three meals a day for two people) and other essential items, including fruit, bread, dry pasta, canned goods and toilet paper. Displaced workers can get a CARE.BOX in place of a Hope For Hospitality meal or in addition to one. Boxes can be reserved and picked up from Little City Brewing on Thursdays and Fridays between 3 and 6 p.m. “It is an exciting initiative that we are proud to be a part of,” says Lori Shapiro, the director of events and marketing for Local Icon.

Local Icon is also seeking monetary donations to help raise funds for CARE.BOX supplies, as well as volunteers to help fill and distribute the boxes.

To reserve a CARE.BOX, donate funds or volunteer, email events@thelocalicon.com. To donate to Patel’s GoFundMe, visit gpreneur.me/2020/04/donate-to-hope-for-hospitality. Members of the hospitality community affected by COVID-19 and in need of a free meal can sign up for the Hope For Hospitality campaign at gpreneur.me/2020/03/hopeforhospitality-free-meals-for-hospitality-professionals-displaced-due-to-covid-19.

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