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Restaurants Offer Free and Pay-What-You-Can Meals During the Shutdown

Whipping up everything from patty melts to pastries, chefs are helping feed laid-off industry folks and other Chicagoans.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KAL'ISH

This week, before shutting down for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo used what perishable food resources they had on hand at Fat Rice to provide 400 meal kits to restaurant workers for a pay-what-you-can donation.

In the midst of an incredibly trying time, local restaurateurs have followed suit, putting together free or low-cost meals to laid-off or furloughed industry folks and other neighbors in need.

Andersonville bistro Vincent extends the nightly staff meal to the public, offering a daily meal to anyone who needs it free of charge (though any donation goes straight to the hospitality community). Single-serve, prepackaged kits may include a sandwich, salad, soup, and even a tidily sealed Negroni. 1475 W. Balmoral Ave., Andersonville

Restaurant group 16” on Center — whose concepts span from Hyde Park to Ukrainian Village — is serving up carryout meals daily from several locations. Menus rotate, but always involve a stick-to-your-ribs spread like a double patty melt with fries, lasagna and garlic bread, or pork shanks with pasta salad. Each day, participating restaurants — The Promontory, Saint Lou’s Assembly, Dusek’s Board & Beer, and Bite Café — release available meals on Instagram. Suggested donations range from $5 to $10 per person. The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave., Hyde Park; St. Lou’s Assembly, 664 W. Lake St., West Loop; Dusek’s Board & Beer, 1227 W. 18th St., Pilsen; Bite Café, 1039 N. Western Ave.; Ukrainian village

Pastry pro Aya Fukai says, “There’s only so much instant ramen you can eat,” so she’s doling out any breads, croissants, cookies, and other flaky treats that are left over from the day at her West Town storefront, Aya Pastry, to her hospitality fam. Check the shop’s Instagram story around 5 p.m. to see what’s up for grabs; it’s currently open daily. 1332 W. Grand Ave., West Town

Tonight and every Friday evening until the restaurant world gets back to spinning, Uptown’s popular plant-based café, Kāl’ish, will be offering free pasta and salad to both industry workers and others in need. 1313 W. Wilson Ave., Uptown

Coalfire’s take-and-bake pizza kits — comprising a ball of dough, jar of sauce, and mozzarella — will scratch your pizza itch. Restaurant workers can stop by either location during business hours (currently noon to 10 p.m.) and grab a kit free of charge. 3707 N. Southport Ave., Lake View, 1321 W. Grand Ave., West Town

The Robey will be giving away 25 meals today between 3 and 6 p.m. for industry workers who need it. The meal includes a roast beef sandwich, tomato soup, potato salad, and a cookie. 2018 W. North Ave., Bucktown

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