Marché Ferdous, a Montreal restaurant, has been giving back to individuals in need.
The small Mediterranean restaurant on the corner of Ste-Catherine Street West and Mackay Street offers a free meal to individuals without sufficient funds. For the past three months, a sign has been taped to its door, which reads: “People with no money welcome to eat for free,” in French and English.
Ala Amiry, the restaurant’s co-owner, and Concordia alumnus, said the initiative began when students and homeless people would come by the restaurant hungry and unable to afford a meal.
The restaurant is located near a number of homeless people, who go to the Marché in search of food, said Amiry.
“We decided to provide free food to anyone who needs it and who is hungry, on a regular basis,” said Amiry.
Amiry said they serve a free meal to about four or five people per day but that he expects that number to increase as they gain more recognition.
Marché Ferdous also provides discounts for students looking for an affordable meal near Concordia’s downtown campus.
Amiry said he and his partner, Yahya Hashemi, consider the money spent on providing free food for those in need as part of a business cost.
“We also give from our own pockets,” said Amiry when asked how the restaurant funds the program.
He also credited the generous donations from members of the Montreal community for helping with their new program. “Today, a woman came by with an envelope of $80 and another customer donated money to the program after purchasing a meal,” said Amiry.
“As an immigrant from Baghdad in Iraq, we suffered from the embargo and war,” Amiry explained. “We understand what it is like to suffer and we know the feeling of people in need.”
Amiry said the initiative was largely unnoticed at the start, but the restaurant earned online recognition when customer Sean Jalbert posted on Facebook about the store’s generosity on Jan. 2.
“I would always pass by the restaurant on my way to work but never went inside,” Jalbert said. “I found out what they were doing through word of mouth from one of my colleagues.”
Jalbert decided to pay a visit to Marché Ferdous to see if the advertisement on their front door was true.
“I told them that I had no money,” said Jalbert. “The workers were very welcoming and did not ask me any questions.”
Jalbert then paid for his meal and then wrote the Facebook post sharing his experience at the Montreal restaurant.
His post has gone viral and received more than 5,000 shares and some 3,000 likes.
“I’m very happy that the restaurant is getting its [well-]deserved recognition for helping the community,” said Jalbert.
He also said he hopes no one takes advantage of the restaurant’s generosity so that it can continue to support members of the community in need.