Dozens of Washington, D.C.-area restaurants have banded together for one common purpose: to feed inauguration security staff and other members of law enforcement who have been “protecting our backyard.”
Roughly 30 restaurants, whose virus-related struggles over the past year were further exacerbated by the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, found a way to come together to create a “shining moment” for the community, Micheline Mendelsohn, deputy CEO of We the Pizza, said.
Since last week, they have collectively been distributing over 3,000 meals each day to National Guard troops, Capitol Police and other members of local law enforcement.
“This effort is bringing the DC community together in a real way,” she said. “After the domestic attacks on Jan. 6, it felt like a sucker punch to D.C. businesses on top of COVID.”
Their efforts started after two members of Congress called Mendelsohn’s restaurant and ordered pizzas for troops who were working around the clock after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol earlier this month.
Mendelsohn, touched by the effort, didn’t think it was enough, so the restaurant matched the donation. Then, “things just snowballed,” she said.
After images surfaced of troops receiving the food, suddenly “people from all over the place” began ordering pizzas. So they created a portal to make it easier for people to do so.
Mendelsohn’s brother and chef, Spike, said the response was “overwhelming” and shows how “powerful” the industry can be.
But, the Mendelsohns recognized that they could do more. They reached out to other local restaurants that were willing to send in food.
“This effort is a way for us to say thank you to the people protecting democracy and our Capitol building, while at the same time support D.C. restaurants,” Micheline Mendelsohn said.
Some restaurants didn’t stop to question if they would be compensated despite having been “hit hard from COVID-19” while working at “diminished capacity because of the domestic attack.”
The Mendelsohns send donations to their partner restaurants in exchange for donuts, chicken sandwiches, burritos and even some vegetarian options, all while still delivering more than 800 pizzas each day.
We The Pizza is now working with restaurants, including Pizzeria Paradiso, RIS, Sticky Fingers Eats & Sweets, Cane, The Duck and The Peach and District Doughnuts, as well as its sister restaurants, Good Stuff Eatery and Santa Rosa Taqueria, to deliver a wide range of food.
For Micheline Mendelsohn, this effort simply reflects “the essence” of what the hospitality industry does.
“It’s a way for us to focus on something good and feel good feeding people,” she said.