On any given day during a regular week, The Carvery Sandwich Shop in South Surrey is packed with customers feasting on Chef Bryan Mendiola’s mouth-watering handcrafted sandwiches. But these aren’t regular times, and due to the COVID-19 virus, Mendiola has had to make the difficult decision to first, like many other restaurants, shift to take-out only, and then ultimately close the shop. In the days after closing, while liquidating the shop’s perishable ingredients, he realized that many of our front-line healthcare workers were so busy that they didn’t even have time to bring their lunches to work. He reached out via social media, made contact with the right people and arranged to donate soup and bread to the workers at Peace Arch Hospital, all while following social-distancing and no-contact delivery guidelines. Then he issued a challenge to other restaurants to do the same for hospitals in their communities! And the response was incredible and swift! In the 4 days since the challenge was thrown down, small businesses in Surrey and around Metro Vancouver have donated over 1500 meals to our front-liners.
Other Surrey (and White Rock) restaurants who have taken up the challenge include the Pepperoni Café, Kin Thai Kitchen + Bar, Cotto Al Mare, Hillcrest Bakery, Everbean Café, Chutney’s South Surrey, Sheila’s Catering Company, and Training Day Café & Kitchen.
And the giving hasn’t stopped at meals … donations of cash were being offered, so Bryan set up a GoFundMe campaign. Phase one of the Lunches for Healthcare Workers raised over $7000, and what started as a good-samaritan mission has now become a joint effort to keep small restaurant businesses alive during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Since the initial fundraiser, Bryan has banded together with Craig Turley, local food blogger at Surrey Eats and Fraser Valley Eats, to amplify their message and launch phase 2 of their fundraising efforts.
“We talk a lot about caring for community, but never have we seen a circumstance or opportunity so relevant to that calling,” said Mendiola. “We’re challenging all local restaurants in Surrey, Langley, White Rock and across the Fraser Valley to join us, and challenging all families to donate what they can to feed our frontline heroes.”
For those unable to help financially, organizers are asking citizens to share the link online with their networks.
Restauranteurs who wish to participate can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Community coming together is what Surrey is all about and this story and these actions truly warm our hearts. While these business owners struggle with the unknown, please take a moment to let them know that when this is all over, you will be back. That … is True Surrey!