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Grand Rapids restaurants giving back, despite their own struggles

Several local restaurants chose to give back to their communities ahead of Thanksgiving.

Across the state, revenues for small restaurants are down 20% on average from where they were last year. But despite the struggle, many local restaurants are putting their own worries on hold, in order to help others.

Graydon's Crossing, Carlo's Italian Pizzeria, and Ellnora's Kitchen in Grand Rapids all gave away meals to families in need the week of Thanksgiving.

Through a partnership with Eat GR, Graydon's Crossing was able to track down 50 families through social media and provide meals for them. The restaurant's general manager, Steven Robertson, says that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the community has supported its local restaurants and he felt it was time to give back.

"We've had help from the federal government. We just feel like just being able to give back is just our responsibility to do it for the community right now. So many people struggling for a meal. Just being able to do that is reward enough for us," he said.

Robertson is seeing other people paying forward the kindness as well.

"One lady came in and said she was actually going to drop it off to people who tested positive for COVID. A couple of her friends. I just thought was super nice of her to do," he said.

"It's nice to just see the kindness in the community, man. It's just nice to see the humanity."

Last week, Carlo's Italian Pizzeria announced on Facebook that they would be providing meals as well. At the time, they had enough for eight families. But when word got out, people started donating money at both their Plainfield and Division Avenue locations. Now the restaurant is able to feed 25 families.

The Plainfield location has also set up a "pay it forward" board.

"If a family is in need they are encouraged to contact us and we will provide free pizza to them," restaurant management said in a message to 13 ON YOUR SIDE.

"We have been in the community for almost 10 years and with the current struggle people are having we are always here and do not want any family to go hungry."

On the southeast side of the city, Ellnora's Kitchen on Eastern Avenue gave away Thanksgiving meals to people on Monday and Tuesday. Owner Elijah Libbett says the restaurant plans to give away meals and Christmas gifts to families on December 21.

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