Pay-it-Forward: How Restaurants are Keeping Their Brooklyn Neighbors Going 

Pay-it-Forward: How Restaurants are Keeping Their Brooklyn Neighbors Going 
Yemen Cafe owner Akram Nassir delivering meals to healthcare workers with his son, Gabriel. Courtesy of Akram Nassir.

Our local restaurants fight to keep their doors open and their employees paid, but many have also turned their gaze outward to help their elderly, ill, and otherwise vulnerable neighbors, along with medical staff on the front lines of the pandemic, delivering food and hot meals with the help of selfless volunteers. Thank you, neighbors!

Thai Farm Kitchen

Thai Farm Kitchen in Kensington has been donating free lunches, with free delivery, to elderly, differently-abled, and otherwise at-risk individuals, as well as children, within a one-mile radius of the restaurant. With the help of 25 volunteers, co-owner Jessica Calvo told us in an email, they’ve been delivering over 20 meals per day, and the number continues to grow.

“We will not give up on those who are under our care, including those to come,” Calvo said.

The restaurant has put out a call for more volunteers on their Facebook page.

La Bagel Delight  

Park Slope bagel spot La Bagel Delight’s contributions to healthcare workers during the pandemic have been twofold. The shop launched a “pay-it-forward” program last week, allowing patrons to contribute money to a gift card which cashiers use to pay for healthcare workers’ food and coffee orders – the store is located across from the Methodist hospital. The card’s value has reached as high as $900, partner Dino Bavaro told Bklyner.

They have also been providing freshly prepared sandwiches to Methodist Hospital’s Park Slope branch as part of a GoFundMe initiative, Meals for Brooklyn Hospital Staff, launched by Brooklyn resident Jessica Fields. Funded by donations from the community, restaurants are asked to provide 100 meals per daily “session.” La Bagel Delight has thus far provided a session’s worth of sandwiches, bottles of water, and bags of chips, plus one last-minute order of 60 sandwiches. Partner Mike Vasquez said that he plans to stay involved for as long as needed, and even beyond: “there are so many generous people that are donating,” he told us.

Yemen Cafe owner Akram Nassir delivering meals to healthcare workers. Courtesy of Gabriel Nassir.

Yemen Cafe

Yemen Cafe, which has locations in Downtown Brooklyn and Bay Ridge, has been providing meals to workers at two major hospitals in Brooklyn: NYU Langone in Sunset Park and NYU Langone in Cobble Hill.

In a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page on Tuesday, owner Akram Nassir stated that the contributions would begin that day and continue until Sunday, April 12th. Nassir, who also serves as captain for a major airline company that has been transporting medical supplies and personnel around the country for the past month, said that even though his April schedule had been canceled, he was determined to give back to first responders. “On behalf of myself, my family and Yemen Café, we would like to thank every first responder not only locally, but worldwide for their bravery and sacrifices during these trying times,” Nassir said in the post.

The freshly prepared meals change by the day, Nassir told Bklyner; workers might receive chicken kebabs one day, and lamb the next. Nassir makes sure that there’s always a vegetarian option, as well. “Bringing someone lunch is just something so amazing,” Nassir told us. Thus far, he estimated, they’ve donated roughly 600 meals over the course of three days.

The restaurant just launched a GoFundMe page where people can donate to provide more meals to the hospitals.


Brooklyn Heights waterfront restaurant Estuary will donate 600 meals to The Brooklyn Hospital Center over two days next week. Estuary has also created a GoFundMe page in order to provide meals for additional hospitals.

“We are asking for any donation support to help us nourish these heroic and exhausted healthcare workers by providing up to 200 meals, including kosher, gluten free and vegetarian options,” the page states. The page has thus far raised nearly half of its $12,000 goal.