For the staff at Perry's Deli in Fairfax, it was the kind of large order that might put them way behind. "Forty-five lunches...sandwiches, chips, drinks," recited owner Paul Schilling.
Not that he has any complaints. His deli has been very quiet since the COVID-19 lockdown across the country. His staff's hours have been reduced and worse.
"We had to shut down for a week, completely, business was so bad. And a week of missed income is a lot," said Lauren Hughes, who works behind the counter.
"So, in that context...45 lunches?," I asked. "It's a big chunk for us. Helps a lot," Schilling said.
The order came from a Marin County charity called Dine11, which has raised $25,000 to keep restaurants working, and that is only the start of it.
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"There are people who are sick. Others losing their business. We are just trying to help," explained Linley Kaye, one of Dine11's co-founders.
How are the numbers? Impressive.
In two weeks, Dine11 has purchased more than 1,500 lunches and dinners for medical workers in hospitals and elderly care facilities. They are also helping the under served in San Rafael's Canal District. That is a win-win.
Plenty of other restaurants have become involved. With lunch on the way from Perry's, the staff at Cucina in San Anselmo geared up for dinners.
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"It's connecting people to needs," said owner Donna Seymour. She says she is happy to just break even and keep staff working. She is experimenting everyday.
We watched bartender Mauricio Becerra mixing and bottling cocktails for home deliveries. Any order helps. In a few hours, they would fill a Dine11 order for 30 chicken breast dinners. "That is probably a third of what we are doing right now," he said.
Meantime, and right on time, those 45 lunch orders arrived at Drake Terrace, an elderly care residence in San Rafael who is COVID wary about the novel coronavirus pandemic. They have been formally embattled about the crisis. Dine11 provided enough food for an entire shift, and also provide another layer of insulation for people working as long as 16 hours a day.
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Nurse Kimberly Kooy told us it makes a difference. "It's a meal. I don't have to go outside to get. And be exposed to any other virus that I could bring in the building," she said. All that, is so much more than a sack lunch.
From a struggling deli in Fairfax to the front line, and health care workers behind locked doors. "It matters more than anyone can imagine," said Kooy.
The way her staff grabbed those lunches, we believe every word.
If you would like to donate to Dine11, here's a link.
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