Staff Meals: How One Chef is Giving Back to Hospitality Workers

Chef Brian Duffy is offering delivery and takeout while operating with a super lean crew to provide meals for hospitality workers.

Visit the website for his barbecue restaurant, ArdmoreQ, and you’ll find two pickup order buttons placed prominently.

“I’m getting more orders through my website because I think there’s still a lot of people that want to go out,” says Chef Duffy. “They still want to get out of the house a little bit, they want to get in their car.”

ArdmoreQ is still open for business, in compliance with current government orders and guidance of course. People can call orders in or place them online. To provide some shelter from inclement weather, Chef Duffy has set up a tent in front of the restaurant, located about 20 minutes northwest of Philadelphia in Ardmore, PA.

People picking up orders are instructed—and expected—to adhere to social distancing guidelines, even when under the tent. After customers have grabbed their orders they exit through the back of the restaurant.

Along with staying open to generate revenue, Chef Duffy has used pickup and delivery revenue to feed hospitality workers. And when I say he’s running super lean, I mean it: the back of house consists of him in the kitchen with a dishwasher who’s interested in attending a culinary program. That worker is earning a paychek, learning from an incredibly talented chef, and helping ArdmoreQ stay in business while it serves the community and local industry.

Read this: Now More Than Ever You Need to Be the Leader

Anyone can call or go online to order what was initially called the Extra Value Meal but is now identified as the Staff Meal on the ArdmoreQ ordering website. For $10 the customer gets some great barbecue prepared by Chef Duffy...or they can spend that ten bucks and provide three meals for laid-off, furloughed or terminated hospitality workers.


A post shared by Ardmore Q (@ardmoreq) on

Word has gotten out in the area about the ArdmoreQ Staff Meal, with one supporter giving Chef Duffy $100 toward them. That act of generosity provided 33 meals for hospitality workers.

“Look, I’m not giving you a full rack of ribs but you’re getting ten ounces of sausage with caramelized onions, and roasted peppers, and a side of French fries,” says Chef Dufy, providing an example of what he’s giving workers in need.

Speaking of those fries, this is where good (or great, hopefully) relationships with food purveyors helps. Chef Duffy has developed a fantastic relationship with a major French fry producer, for example. Understanding that Chef Duffy is feeding hospitality workers, they donated cases of French fries for a couple weeks to help.

Read this: How to Shut Down a Restaurant the Right Way

Operators who want to provide similar assistance can reach out to their suppliers as well, whoever they may be. They might be willing to donate product to keep costs down during this trying and troubling time while providing meals for industry workers.

“I think that if there are owners out there that are feeding some of these people, reach out to your purveyors and have a conversation,” says Chef Duffy. “You never know what they can do for you.”

Operators near ArdmoreQ are getting creative to make ends meet and support the industry as well. Chef Duffy says he’s seen brewpubs in the area selling growlers and burgers as a $25 combo. Other operators are selling what seem like expensive burgers until one understands the price breakdown:

  • One-third of the price goes to the cost of the burger.
  • One-third of the prices goes to an employee fund.
  • One-third of the price goes to feed health care workers and First Responders.

Is a $15, $18, $21 or $24 burger pricey on even the best days? To some, yes. But that single burger sale supports the bar or restaurant, provides for the staff, and gives meals to those on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight.

Read this: How to Prepare Draft Systems for Cleaning and Temporary Closure

Things are going to get worse before they get better. Operators who can stay open are finding creative ways to provide for the communities they serve and the workers they employ. Now is the time for owners to reach out to their industry partners.