“Rodney Mayo, whose 17-location Subculture restaurant group owns Howley’s, started handing out free meals in the diner’s parking lot on Saturday, March 21, after having to lay off 650 workers the day before.
“They were asking ‘Where do we go? What do we do?’ All I really had was the unemployment site that was crashing and nobody could file anything on it,” Mayo said. “But I did promise them: No matter what, you and your families will get fed by us. And I said tomorrow we’ll be open at Howley’s.”
What started with his own employees quickly grew into a bigger effort as friends, suppliers, and fellow restaurateurs pitched in, and area charities began sending other people needing meals his way.
Two weeks on, Mayo has opened another of his restaurants to distribute meals and is preparing to open a third. He’s also turning a warehouse into a food pantry that will distribute groceries. He has secured funds from the local government and set up a charity called Hospitality Helping Hands that is taking donations to keep the effort going.”