Michael Tabrizi, owner of “Tabrizi’s” Mediterranean restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland, decided to pull out of the city’s 10th annual restaurant week in order to feed the homeless.
While Baltimore’s Restaurant Week promotion is financially beneficial for those who work in the restaurant district of Baltimore County, Israeli-born Tabrizi believes that it is his moral responsibility to make the homeless feel respected this year. He told CNNMoney:
“I just wish people would treat the homeless in a different way. People should remember it’s always good to hear kindness and it’s important to look people in the eye. The homeless feel less human — like they’re invisible. They just want to be respected.”
For five days during the promotion, July 20-25, Tabrizi’s dining room will be closed to the general public.
Tabrizi is spending $20,000 of his own money to host the event. While the meals have yet to be finalized, Tabrizi plans on serving a main course like their Cordon Bleu chicken, salad, sides, sparkling apple cider and dessert, all buffet style. Tabrizi told Baltimore Magazine:
“These people don’t only suffer from hunger, but also from hopelessness, they feel that they don’t have any dignity anymore. We want them to come in and feel like they’re cared for.”
He has teamed up with local shelters and organizations to serve upwards of a thousand of the homeless population. He coordinated with the Baltimore Area Concierge Association to provide transportation to and from their shelters.
Tabrizi, who isn’t condemning other businesses for participating in the city’s promotional event, is aware that pulling out of the restaurant week and shutting down his business to regular diners will cost him more than just the money he spent for the food. However, he is willing to take the loss, as he feels that the homeless are in need now more than ever.
“It isn’t about revenue and money right now, we’ve done restaurant week before and we know the numbers, but right now it’s more important to promote the welfare of the city and its residents rather than to promote the business.
“The main goal is just to show people that actions do matter.”
At least one restaurant owner with a good heart knows what’s most important for his community.