Local restaurant owner using donations to give out free meals to those in need
DENHAM SPRINGS - One family-owned restaurant in Livingston Parish is going above and beyond to help families in need during the pandemic.
There's a wall of generosity on display at Papi's Mexican Cuisine.
Owner Alejandro Ortiz is lending a helping hand to those struggling to pay for meals during the coronavirus crisis.
The wall says "If you are hungry or know someone that is hungry and has no money, these tickets have been paid in advance. Grab a ticket and eat."
Customers can grab a pre-paid ticket, no questions asked, and enjoy a hot meal with full service.
"There are people that come that are homeless and don't have any money. They can come and get a ticket from the wall and get a free meal."
Ortiz came up with the idea a year ago. But since the coronavirus shut down his kitchen back in March, he struggled to keep the giving system up and running.
"It's decreased a lot after the coronavirus hit, but people are still helping out. If I didn't have people help me out, the wall would basically die."
Now that the restaurant is back open for business, so are the orders on the wall.
Customers like Wayne Clark have already started donating meals again. He says giving back is the perfect dessert after eating there, now more than ever.
"When I come in here and eat, I'll buy an extra meal. It could be $25. I've paid as much as $50 sometimes for a meal and just stick it up on the wall."
With the level of uncertainty caused by the outbreak, Ortiz says he wants to let his customers know that one thing's for sure: Those in need don't have to go home without a meal.