When the coronavirus pandemic threatened to close a D.C. restaurant known for feeding the homeless, owner Kazi Mannan issued a desperate plea for help. And the response makes this inspiring short story even more incredible!
For Kazi Mannan, feeding the homeless goes hand-in-hand with owning a restaurant. Sakina Halal Grill is a high-end establishment just a few blocks from the White House.
Yet, despite its ritzy status, the restaurant refuses to turn away anyone who can’t afford a meal. If someone is hungry, poor, or homeless, they eat for free, no questions asked.
“If someone says I need a free meal, OK,” Kazi says.
Using Success To Bless Others
The homeless regularly visit Sakina Halal Grill and the restaurant handed out about 16,000 free meals in 2018 alone!
Kazi does all of this without asking for donations. He considers paying customers all the support he needs.
“If you’re coming in to eat, that’s your support of helping a community restaurant that is offering kindness and love to others,” the Sakina Halal Grill says.
To many, feeding the homeless right alongside the Washington, D.C. elite sounds like a risky business model. But for Kazi Mannan, it’s not about turning a profit but rather honoring the Giver of all blessings.
“I’m trying to worship our Creator through food,” he explains.
Many ask how the restaurant can afford to keep the doors open after handing out so many free meals. Kazi’s faith in the Lord is the answer.
“That question, I ask God every day. How do I keep my business open, growing, and making profit?” he says.
Restaurant Owner’s Inspiration For Feeding The Homeless
The restaurant owner is no stranger to hard times. He immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1996 with only $5 in his pocket.
“Once upon a time, I was in a similar situation where I didn’t have enough money to eat,” he shared.
But God delivered Kazi from these difficult times, eventually opening Sakina Halal Grill in 2013. And his own experiences inspired a passion for feeding the homeless.
Kazi Mannan knows just how blessed he is to own Sakina Halal Grill. And, “To whoever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).
Kazi recognizes that this gift provides a way for him to bless those who’ve been cast aside by society.
“People have fear that a lot of homeless people have mental issues, health issues, they are dirty, not clean and if you let them come in they will ruin your business,” he said. “I tell them look at my life and look at my restaurant – does this look dirty to you?”
WATCH: DC Restaurant Owner Feeding The Homeless
Restaurant Feeding The Homeless Needs Help
Kazi Mannan has provided free meals to the homeless for years, relying solely on his D.C. restaurant to provide the means. But when the global COVID-19 pandemic hit, it had a devastating impact on restaurants all over.
It was no different for Sakina Halal Grill. Suddenly, the man who had been feeding the homeless for years was struggling to feed himself.
“Business was doing very well. Before COVID-19 hit, we were feeding 70 to 80 people free meals a day,” Kazi explained. “Right now we are in a bad shape and unable to pay rent. I am unable to pay my mortgage.”
The D.C. restaurant owner had never accepted offers of donations before. But amidst the pandemic, he found himself “underwater” and struggling to survive.
So, he set aside his pride and shared his situation with a local news station.
“It was heartbreaking for me to ask the public to come out and support me,” the restaurant owner said.
Community Stands Behind Restaurant Owner
To his amazement, the community response to Kazi Mannan’s plea for help was astonishing. Donations poured in through a GoFundMe page. And in just 24 hours, giving already totaled $100,000!
The donations continue to pour in, leaving Kazi humbled and in awe. Thanks to the support from the community, he’ll be able to get back to feeding the homeless.
“A few days ago you did a story on me and how I am struggling. I had tears of fear,” Kazi told the news station. ” I have today, tears of joy!”
What a beautiful example of using the gifts God gave to bless another. Our prayers go out to all who’ve been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter how dark things get, let us remember God is still in control!
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“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
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Featured Image: GoFundMe