Roscoe Village restaurant focused on feeding frontline workers during coronavirus pandemic

Chicago's Very Own
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CHICAGO — Since the COVID-19 pandemic began many restaurants have found themselves falling on hard times. But one family restaurant is focused on bringing people together and feeding workers on the front lines.

For the last month, restaurant owners John and Lynn Manilow have been preparing and delivering meals to Chicago area frontline health care workers.

“The first delivery, I think I got in the car and cried because they were just so appreciative,” said Lynn.

The owners of John’s Place, a mainstay in Chicago’s Roscoe Village, recently launched “Feed a Hero.” It’s a program that accepts donations to cover meals for medical workers during the pandemic. At the same time, it allows them to keep paying their limited restaurant staff at a time when jobs are few and far between.

“By having our customers donate, it’s a win-win for us obviously. It’s able for me to keep my staff afloat and keep the lights on, so to speak,” said owner John Manilow.

A staple in their community since 2008, John’s Place always supports local non profits, so when the pandemic hit, Lynn said she knew John’s Place had to step up.

“In our position, since we are such a community anchor here in Roscoe Village and we make food, we thought a likely connection would be for us to really step up and do something,” said owner Lynn.

In just four weeks, Lynn — along with the help of her two sons Noah and Oliver — have delivered nearly 500 meals to Chicago area hospitals, including Weiss, Rush and St. Joseph’s.

“We were showing them that we are behind you, giving you food and nourishment to keep going and doing what you are doing,” said Lynn.

The Manilow’s said they may be doing the leg work, but it’s the community’s support that has lead to the quick success of the program.

A local artist and neighbor created a mural on the building of the restaurant. She says it’s a message to keep the community hopeful.

“I thought perhaps doing something on the outside of John’s Place calling attention to what they are doing inside was a good idea,” said artist Heather Gentile Collins.

“We were talking about here creating something to promote “Feed a Hero,” but also just try to give the neighborhood a great, uplifting feeling in this crisis,” said John.

“Chicago Together,” isn’t only a message of comfort, it’s a symbol that they know their community is behind them all the way.

“It’s a fabulous thing to see the neighborhood community support us in such a great way and of course supporting the people who are in harm’s way and doing the job they are doing,” said John.    

The cost of a meal is $15, but the Manilow’s accept all donations and no purchase is necessary, though appreciated.

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