Old Town

Home & Away Caught Giving It Away to Out-of-Work Workers

Police were called out when hundreds showed up for free meals near Old Town

Home & Away in San Diego's Old Town
Deirdre O'Shea

Police were called out to a restaurant near San Diego's Old Town Wednesday, only to find out that workers there were making and donating food to hundreds of hungry San Diegans before it went to waste.

"We did a free lunch for hospitality workers -- bartenders and brewers and waiters and waitresses," said Jonathan Frank, one of the owners of Home & Away, gregarious sports and game-focused bar/eateries in San Diego and Encinitas. "They registered through Maker's Mark bourbon and Compari brands -- they helped donate product, set up the website stuff; they just came in and bought people lunch and we matched them on that one."

Frank said on Thursday that his chefs and employees donated their time and helped to serve up 700 portions of take-away food to such a large crowd that it drew the attention and concern of some passers-by, who called the police.

"The police came by just 'cause our parking lot was full, but they were supernice and empathetic," Frank said on Thursday. "I had a good conversation with them -- they were just making sure [people] were keeping a six-foot distance from one another."

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Frank and his partner, Dennis O'Connor, have a small group of restaurants that includes Hott Mess, on Logan Avenue in Barrio Logan, which they were getting ready to open when the coronavirus epidemic swept over the county and country.

Frank said he and his squad aren't done -- "we still have a lot of food" -- and that he plans on using the rest of his stock (and donations from Central Meat & Provision, who will be supplying proteins) to prepare massive batches of soup down in Hott Mess's commissary-style kitchen in the next week for another giveaway.

"We're making a ton of soup, portioning it out and freezing it, and we are working out how to give it away," Frank said.

Local dry-goods supplier Cysco will be helping out, donating what will likely be thousands of containers.

If all goes well, Frank said, they'll probably start making soup Monday.

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