In midst of closing, local restaurant gives food to homeless, service workers

Don Panchito Halal Mexican Grill has given out 220 meals in the past couple of days to people in need and service workers working long hours during the coronavirus shutdown.

Image via Mohamed Goubaa.

Since the spread of the coronavirus caused a city and statewide shutdown of nonessential businesses, sales at Don Panchito Halal Mexican Grill have plummeted 98%. They’ve barely been fulfilling orders through delivery services like Grubhub, owner Mohamed Goubaa said.

“We’re going to see if we can survive through the shutdown,” he said.

With business down but still with the amount of food that would be served in normal times, Goubaa decided to put the food to good use. The restaurant is giving free meals to people in need, such as people out of work due to the shutdown and the homeless, and city service providers working around the clock.

“We have the chicken and supplies sitting here, so we might as well put it to good use,” he said.

Since the restaurant made a post on their Instagram page, it’s been shared and seen hundreds of times. Those in need receive platters including rice and beans, some halal chicken and a side salad.

Goubaa said that the pandemic has caused division and confusion, and he hopes his restaurant can do “as much good as it can.”

“I’m literally losing money, but if I’m doing it for a good cause I’m gaining instead of losing,” he said.

On Monday, the restaurant announced it would be delivering meals to healthcare workers in hospitals. On Instagram, the restaurant’s account, @halal_mexican, put out a post urging all urgent care workers to reach out to the restaurant for meal delivery.

The goal of the #PhillyPhillyChallenge is to deliver 200 meals a day to hospitals, Goubaa said. Within a few hours of creating the post, the restaurant had raised $2,500 to put toward meals.

The restaurant is also asking for medical supplies such as masks and sanitizer to deliver in addition to the food.

To get in touch, reach out to them on Instagram or contact 267-270-7667 or DonPMexican@gmail.com.

Goubaa purchased the building at 3180 Grant Ave. eight months ago. He said the restaurant is the only halal Mexican restaurant in the tristate area, and he wanted to introduce the Northeast Philadelphia community to an expanded halal taste.