HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - For more than a year, they put their blood, sweat and tears into opening a new restaurant. Hundreds of people came through the restaurant's doors for its grand opening.
"For the first five nights, we had an hour- to two-hour wait each night," said Kevin Ordonez, owner of Baby Izakaya restaurant.
Baby Izakaya, the sister restaurant to Alkaline in Norfolk, is a small, 18-seat, Japanese-inspired pub and eatery in the VIBE district of Virginia Beach.
"We were experiencing a lot of highs. It was all worth it," said Ordonez.
But the coronavirus pandemic hit just five days after the brand-new restaurant opened. Ordonez tried to switch to takeout, but the food he was cooking up didn't fit that mold.
"Our mission and goal has always been the same: To take care of people in any way we can," he said.
So, last week they fired up the stove and started cooking up hundreds of meals for those who need them most.
"There are so many people that are working 15-, 16-hour days, putting themselves at risk, and maybe only taking five minutes to eat and refuel," Ordonez explained.
Ordonez's new campaign is called Feed 1,500. The mission is to help healthcare workers, police and firefighters eat well-balanced meals daily.
"These people are putting themselves in a risky scenario, so we need to help," said Ordonez.
Baby Izakaya is currently using the food inventory it already had on hand, but it will soon need help to pay for more food, a chef and other employees to help cook and deliver the meals.
"We hope to raise $10,000. That money is also helping my staff who have to pay bills," said Ordonez. "We are all in this together - let's try our best to take care of one another."
To help by donating meals, click here.