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Coronavirus Help: South Florida Restaurant Group Feeding Thousands Laid Off During Pandemic

WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – There's no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has hit the restaurant industry hard.

To help those in need, one South Florida restaurant group is working with several nonprofits to feed some of the thousands of people laid off from their industry.

"We're not turning anyone away. So if somebody doesn't have a meal, we'll give them a meal as long as we can," said Rodney Mayo with Hospitality Helping Hands.

At Howley's Restaurant in West Palm Beach, the owner, who owns 16 other restaurants, is using the food he has, and some of his staff members, to prepare meals for people in the service industry laid off this week, among others.

"Most of the restaurant workers, as I'm sure everybody knows, live paycheck to paycheck and tip by tip and they're really desperate," Mayo said. "It's sad that were at this point. Never in my wildest nightmares could I ever think we would be here doing this."

Mayo recalled an interaction with one woman who has been a server most of her life.

"She came up and she was so embarrassed to ask for food and she broke down and it affected me," he said.

Subculture group, Mayo's business, had to part ways with 650 employees this week.

The group has now partnered up with nonprofits like Living Hungry and Community Volunteers to make this all happen.

"As long as I'm safe, I want to come out and do something that can help others," said one volunteer.

Right now, people can pick up their free meals from Howley's Restaurant between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

However, Mayo said they're going to need other businesses as well as government agencies to step up for this to continue.

"Come mid next week, I think Howleys is going to be overwhelmed if were the only ones doing this. We're going to be overwhelmed," he said.

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