(NVTB) – Healthcare workers on the front lines are working long, hard hours amid the Coronavirus pandemic – some pulling extra shifts without even stopping to eat. In order to show appreciation and support, many local restaurants in Seattle, including Ba Bar Kitchen, Nue Seattle, District One Saigon, Tamarind Tree, etc., generously decided to donate food for healthcare workers.
One of the first Vietnamese restaurants in Seattle that started donating free meals for the healthcare workers was Nue Seattle, a nationally recognized restaurant located on Capitol Hill. Her first donation was delivered on March 28th. When asked about how she started the donation, Uyen Nguyen, co-owner of Nue Seattle shared that the idea of donating food to the healthcare workers came up when the pandemic just started. She shared, “People often think that the frontline workers are just doctors, nurses, and polices; however, I think that the frontline workers are those people who work in the sanitation department as well. Therefore, I wanted to deliver free meals not only to the people like doctors and nurses who work directly with patients but also the sanitation workers who keep everything cleaned up to prevent the spread of the virus within the healthcare facility. I think that their job is one of the hardest and most important jobs but they don’t get enough recognition they deserve.”
While the pandemic was still going on, there have been many protests going on in the Seattle area as support for the Black Lives Matter movement grows. Nue Seattle was fortunate enough that they did not get looted. However, the BLM protests surely did affect Nue Seattle and some other restaurants in the area due to the curfew; most restaurants had to close by 3 o’clock so their staff could get home safely.
Despite all the recent events, Uyen Nguyen asserted that, “ My background is biomedical science and I am a scientist at heart. I think that this pandemic is going to last for a while, unfortunately. However, as long as the frontline people still need help, then I will continue to help as much as I can.” The amount of free meals that they have delivered is updated on their website https://www.nueplanet.org/, every single day. As up to date, they have donated over 2000 meals to several facilities in the Seattle area. There are many ways to contribute to Nue’s donation, people can donate directly on https://www.nueplanet.org/, Venmo, or email Uyen Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org if they prefer a different method.
Ba Bar Kitchen was another Vietnamese restaurant that partnered with Seattle Science Foundation to give free meals to the healthcare workers. In an interview with Seattle Science Foundation about their cooperation in the 100 Meals a Day donation, Eric Banh, co-owner of Bar Kitchen and Monsoon restaurants shared that, “During this difficult time, I would say frightening time, it affects all of us; at least most of us in this restaurant business. Here we are doing only twenty percent of what we used to do. At least now, we have a little bit left, so might as well help the people who are part of our industry, and part of our neighbors. So we thought let’s do a five dollars meal for these folks, whether they are employed or got laid off, every day. Then, when I talk to family members, business associates, they said ‘How about the hospital staff?’”
When being asked about the marketing strategies to bring supporters to their donation; moreover, it was incredible to gain their partnership with Seattle Science Foundation, Teresa Nguyen said, “Eric and I met two surgeons from Seattle Science Foundation, Dr. Rod Oskouian and Dr. Jen Chapman through our restaurants and became friends over the years. Eric asked Seattle Science Foundation to be our partner to give back to the community and feed the frontlines so donation is tax deductible. Seattle Science Foundation loved the idea and accepted.”
When Teresa was asked about how she and her people enjoy this donation, she shared that, “We have delivered 5,700 healthy and delicious meals as of today the 4th of June to the frontline healthcare givers. It’s a very gratifying and rewarding feeling to receive notes from the hospital that they love our food and appreciate the little note we write on each box. It’s a way for us to give back to the community, to thank our patrons for supporting us for the last 10 years and for us to say how grateful we are to the frontlines who work tirelessly fighting this Covid-19 pandemic and finding the cure. Seattle Science Foundation has the expertise to identify and manage the frontline hospital list for delivery schedules. We love to write appreciation and encouragement notes with the lunch boxes.” Ba Bar Kitchen’s staff are preparing the meals with their time and dedication to make this become the greatest experience ever for everyone who is a part of this donation. Seattle Science Foundation is coordinating with their healthcare workers to deliver the meals every day. At this point, the donation is completed and no longer accepts donation; Ba Bar Kitchen has raised over $50,000 to deliver 100 meals for ninety days, which is such an incredible amount of money in just a short period of time.
In one of his interview, Eric Banh had a few words to say about the challenge Ba Bar had to face with during the pandemic and the BLM movement, “We used to have sixty seats in our restaurant, but at this point, we are allowed to open with twenty-five percent of the capacity, so it is about 17 customers in our restaurants.” Restaurants are barely making any profits during the coronavirus lockdown , but they still want to open it because they want to support their employees, the community, and the neighborhood.
District One Saigon is a bright star that has been donated over 2000 of meals to the healthcare workers. They recently started a partnership with Edouardo Jordan, owner of FareStart to provide more free meals not only to the frontline workers but the people that are homeless, families, students, and those who are coming out of incarceration throughout the Seattle area as well. They have been updating everything about their donation on social media so that people can contribute and support the community with them.
Tamarind Tree was on the list of one of the restaurants that donated free meals to healthcare workers as well. He commented about the problem that every restaurant has been struggling with since the pandemic started, “We open our business every day without expecting to gain any profits, but maybe to break even so our business can survive through this hard time and its aftermath. We had to go through another training to ensure everyone’s safety, including our staff and customers. We also have to follow the new COVID-19 safety guidelines to respect social distancing. We recently just opened a food truck for street food with a few special dishes, such as spicy mixed rice paper, sugar cane juice, Pâté Chaud, toasted sauteed bread, etc. We want to create an open atmosphere for our customers so they can order food outside, still follow the safety guidelines, and keep their social distance without feeling uncomfortable.”
It is incredible to see those individuals who are trying to keep their businesses survive amid the coronavirus pandemic but still deciding to give back and think about other people within the community.
We appreciate not only our healthcare heroes who have been fighting on the frontlines of responding to this crisis, but also generous people such as the Ba Bar Kitchen and Seattle Science Foundation, Nue Seattle, Tamarind Tree, District One Saigon, and many other businesses who have committed their time, money, and positive energy to support those at the frontlines. As our country is having a hard time during this crisis and unfortunate events that led to many protests all over the country, we are deeply grateful for businesses and community members who are generously supporting our frontline responders within the area. This outpouring of gratitude is truly inspiring to everyone in general, and to our Vietnamese community in particular.
Jane Nguyễn – NVTB