Breakfast Republic Owner Donating Comfort Food to Laid Off Staff, Health Care Workers

The owner of Breakfast Republic is donating meals to neighbors in need and is accepting donations to continue his mission

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Community support for those in need has been nothing new since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a popular San Diego breakfast joint is another among a long list of people and businesses stepping up.

Business may have slowed down a touch at Breakfast Republic, but employees are still keeping busy preparing meals for folks who could really use them.

John Engman is the owner of Breakfast Republic and oversees five restaurants from the Gaslamp District to Encinitas. He’s had to lay off 97% of his staff because of restrictions related to the coronavirus, most of whom were in position he was once in.

“It’s not that long ago that I was a dish washer and a busser and a server at a restaurant,” Engman said. “The majority of those people are working paycheck to paycheck, so I felt like it was important to do something.”

So, he found a way to put them to work.

With only four employees left at each restaurant location, they’re cooking up free meals for not only Engman’s laid off staff, but anyone who’s lost their job. Recently, he added health care workers to that list.

The meals are funded by a combination of customer donations and $45,000 worth in savings from Engman’s restaurant group non-profit. The money helps him pay his employees and purchase ingredients for all of the meals.

“Although that is a lot of money, it’s not going to feed people through May,” he said. That’s why he started a GoFundMe page to help the meals last.

“Comfort food is what I’d classify it as. I think during bad times, that’s kind of what makes you feel a little bit warm and fuzzy,” he said.

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