The last three months have been the most challenging time I have experienced as a restaurateur. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have – like so many small business owners – completely changed every aspect of the way our restaurant operates and made some difficult, even painful, decisions in the process. Amidst all of this, I have been inspired by the encouragement and generosity of my family, friends and loyal guests. This support helped me refocus on what has always given me joy: feeding others. So for me, the silver lining of this pandemic has been a renewed sense of purpose.
During the early days of COVID, friends and investors contributed toward an effort that funded our ability to make and deliver hundreds of meals for local frontline healthcare workers. At first, these were small weekly projects, but eventually grew to the dual purpose of nourishing our hospital heroes while also allowing me to bring back many of our employees. Since then, our restaurant group has not only discovered new ways to do business, but also new ways to give back to the community that has always supported us.
Since March, we have:
- Prepared and delivered more than 3,100 meals to healthcare heroes at Evergreen Hospital, Overlake Hospital, Harborview Medical Center and Seattle Childrens’s Hospital, as well as individuals and families at the Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House, Congregations for the Homeless men’s shelter, Bothell Senior Center and the Bothell Fire Department.
- Raised more than $20,000 from bottled wine sales and Wildwood Spirits Co. hand sanitizer donations for Big Table, a local organization helping restaurant workers in crisis.
- Produced 830 gallons of hand sanitizer at Wildwood Spirits Co. for King County Metro, Seattle Police Department, King County Sheriffs and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- Provided all of my 300 restaurant employees, whether they are working or not, with food boxes filled with fresh produce, meats and other grocery products on three separate occasions.
I am also very proud to announce that, as of last week, we have partnered with World Central Kitchen to expand the organization’s Seattle Area presence. World Central Kitchen is a non-profit founded by Jose Andres to provide fresh, individually packaged meals in communities that need support. As a World Central Kitchen meals provider, John Howie Restaurants is making and delivering 900+ meals per week for the Prison Scholars, formerly incarcerated individuals and their families, and homeless individuals housed by Catholic Community Services.
It is important to acknowledge that our pandemic meals and philanthropic efforts would not be possible without the support of generous private donors and the loyal guests who have patronized our restaurant over the past few months. So, on behalf of my entire restaurant family, I want to thank you for helping me to continue doing what I love to do: feeding my community and all of you. I look forward to the day (very soon!), when it will be safe for us to be together again.
With great gratitude and love,
Chef John Howie