CHICAGO — A Hyde Park restaurant known for giving away thousands of free meals to those in need, was robbed at gunpoint Wednesday night, and the manager said he recognized one of the men who did it.
Litehouse Whole Food Grill, at 55th Street and Hyde Park Boulevard, is in serious danger of closing after Wednesday night’s robbery. The pandemic has already taken a toll on the place.
Owner Eric Rico Nance said sales are down more than 80% and on top of that, they’ve given away thousands of free meals.
Messages of gratitude are written on the walls of the neighborhood staple for the thousands of free meals the restaurant has handed out to those in need.
“We’ve been a light to them and we want to continue to be a light to them,” Nance said. “It’s just been really tough financially to keep the doors open to do so, and then this happens.”
Employees said just before 8 p.m. Wednesday, two men walked in and robbed them at gunpoint. It was all caught on camera. Surveillance video shows two men wearing black hoodies standing at the register. One steals cash, while the other jumps the counter to rob the back office.
General manager Ronald Edwards said one of the men was apologizing as he stole the money and said the coronavirus virus “got him messed up.” He said it caught him off guard and then he realized he recognized the man. He said he was one of the people they gave meals to.
“For the last three to six months, I’ve been giving him food like once or twice a month,” Nance said. “I’ve helped him out over and over again.”
Nance said as difficult as the situation is, he will continue to serve.
“Even though we’ve had some misfortune, a lot of misfortune with this robbery, we’re not going to give up on the community,” he said.
He hopes Litehouse Grill lives up to its name — being a light in the community, when there’s a lot of darkness.
“A lighthouse is the guide in the middle of a storm come here, and the same type of young families that just robbed us are the same type of people that we’ve served and we`ve been a light to,” Nance said.
The restaurant is asking the community for their support in only in catching the guys who robbed them, but in donating to their cause to stay open. You can donate at their GoFundMe page