No Hunger Games: American Lunch
GAINESVILLE - While some choose to skip lunch, others don't have a choice. But one local business is trying show the community that there really is a free lunch, "American Lunch." As part of our no hunger games series, we take you there.
At the corner of giving and caring, lies a restaurant in downtown Gainesville, by the name of Five Bar.
Five Bar is a restaurant by night and a food truck by day. However they're not just serving food to their customers, they're also serving food to those in need. They run a side program called American Lunch.
Dane Henderson the manager at Five Bar said, "We are a contemporary American style restaurant with a very small menu. Everything is done really really well, we focus on the details. We try to cover all of our basis and try and please the masses."
Five Bar is owned mainly by Charles Morgan. Cris Eddings a partner said, "What we do is we pack up the truck, with this beautiful soups and sweet tea and water and we drive the truck to the location and serve lunch Monday Wednesday Friday from 11 to 1.”
The premise is that while there are soup kitchens available, sometimes it's hard for impoverished people to find transportation to get to those soup kitchens. Katherine Nugent was wheeling back home one afternoon, near downtown.
When she noticed a bright white truck out on the streets, near her apartment. "I stopped and asked this young man what he was doing with a truck on private property, he said he was giving away free food. And i kind of looked at him and looked the truck over, he was as sweet as he could be, nice polite young gentleman. Told me that they feed people here in Gainesville out of this truck, free of charge anybody that wants food," Nugent said.
Nugent lives in Oak Park, a senior citizen high rise for disabled people in Gainesville. Who would have thought? There really is a free lunch-- American Lunch," she said.
Nugent added, "I think it's the best service that has ever been in Alachua County for this part of the neighborhood.”
Nugent has been coming out here every Monday ever since. She's not the only one. Linda Lazzari another Oak Park resident said, "They've been coming out for the past couple of months. They're just super, they're friendly… I think this is a good thing that they're doing."
Gainesville is Five Bar's newest location, they have restaurants across the states. They rotate the truck through all their locations, spending 3 to 4 months at each city.
"These days everybody wants to turn a profit one way or another, like i said we've been so fortunate to earn a decent living selling food so we can certainly afford to give some away and at the end of the day we do this, because we should," Eddings said.
With the help of staff who volunteer, they give about 50 to 100 lunches a day. An employee of Five Bar and volunteer for American Lunch, Colleen McNally said, "I used to volunteer with soup kitchens in Richmond, with soup kitchens on weekends at local parks. So what I found out about that I was really excited and that's one of the reasons I really wanted to work with this company cause i thought that was really awesome."
The manager at Five Bar, Henderson tells me this has turned out to be more rewarding for them. "We can come out and hear their stories and find out how they are doing. There has become an emotional bond there. In the beginning people were wondering who we were and why would we do this? And it's free and how can we afford to do that? And we finally convinced them that it's what we want to do and we want to give this people a nice lunch, everybody should have a good lunch everyday," Henderson said.
"And I'd like to see them grow, expand, the people are wonderful, service is excellent and food is out of this world good," said Nugent.
And while for some this may just be a spoonful of broth. For others-- American Lunch is a little love being poured in a bowl of soup.
American Lunch, Days & Locations--
100 NE 8th Ave Gainesville, FL 32601
1901 NW 2nd St. Gainesville, FL 32601
807 SW 64th Terrace Gainesville, FL 32607
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