Nova Scotia restaurants step in to help front-line workers

Some Nova Scotia restaurants that made the decision to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now feeding front-line workers for free.

For the past three weeks, Aaron Emery, owner of Old Road BBQ in Truro, N.S., has been delivering lunches to emergency room doctors and nurses at the local hospital.

He said the idea came from his original business plan of “radical hospitality.”

Aaron Emory is the owner of Old Road BBQ. (Old Road BBQ)

“It’s that idea of, ‘What would your grandma do for you?’ She wouldn’t just make sure that she gave you the bare minimum … She would do everything she could to make sure you left satisfied and comfortable,” Emery said.

Emery said he was thinking about ways to practise radical hospitality after the restaurant closed and that’s when he got the idea to provide free meals to hospital workers.

Now he’s looking to do the same for truck drivers, grocery store workers and homeless shelters.

“What we do is provide good home-cooked meals, authentic southern barbecue stuff that kind of injects a little bit of humanity into the situation,” Emery said.

On Saturday, Emery was delivering brown bread and beans. He said security guards at the hospital are starting to recognize him, “so there’s less confusion about what we’re doing.”

“For the most part, it’s been a positive surprise … there’s a handful of people who know that it’s coming, but in general it catches everybody off guard. Anytime there is free food up for grabs, people are bound to be happy,” he said.

Emery said the local business community has been supportive, too, with businesses like Kare Kombucha and Laurie’s Bake Shop donating to the cause.

‘These people are putting themselves in danger’

In Shelburne, N.S., the owner of a pizza shop that made the decision to shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic made a special delivery on Friday to his local Sobeys store, pharmacy, hospital and nursing home.

“Sobeys is a big company and it needs to be open,” said Bill Chidiac, owner of A1 Pizza. “And these people are putting themselves in danger to wait on people and serve on them.

“I believe they deserved something and it broke my heart. Same with the people at the pharmacy, same with the people at the hospital and then the manor. Imagine how many people are walking in and out around the hour, sick.”

Bill Chidiac is the owner of A1 Pizza in Shelburne, N.S. (Bill Chidiac)

Chidiac made the difficult decision to close down A1 Pizza, a business that has been around since 1995, last month.

He said he and his staff didn’t feel safe to stay in business during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with a family member who is considered a higher risk for severe illness.

He discreetly delivered the pizzas on Friday. He doesn’t want people to think his shop is open.

“Of course they put a smile on their face and showed appreciation for what I’d done, but this is not what I did it for. A smile on their face, it put a smile on my heart, it really did,” he said.

From free meals to short term rentals, the CBC’s Colleen Jones reports on how locals are showing kindness to one another. 1:54
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