A local restaurant is giving free meals to furloughed federal workers during the government shutdown.
Max Gordon is the owner of the Hideaway, who says with proper ID, furloughed government workers can come in and get a free meal, with no expectation of money exchanging hands.
Gordon says the idea came up last week, as federal employees were getting close to missing their first paychecks. So the staff got together to think of ways to help. He also says he didn’t want it to be a top down assignment so everyone agreed: free meals, no tips necessary.
As a group, they noticed food is usually the first thing to go when people start managing life without being paid.
"That was the most flexible part of their budget. Mortgage is still mortgage; car payment is still car payment, three meals a day could easily turn into two, maybe one and a half to save some money."
The restaurant started the program on Friday, and Gordon says they expect more people to take advantage of the deal as it spreads on social media and the shutdown goes on.
He hopes the meal will give furloughed workers a place to come, relax, not worry about one meal for the day and maybe for like an hour not think about the whole shutdown situation.
"During your meal let the server quietly know that you want to take advantage of this program and no one else will know. There’s not going to be pictures taken, were not going to be posting “X amount” of people are taking advantage, honestly that’s not why we’re doing this."
The idea has gained traction on social media, with a number of local news outlets covering it. He says he’s just happy to be part of some positive news in this climate.
"You wake up and you see the responses on Facebook and you see the support and everyone wants to help in whatever way they can and you have to pause for a second. Because it’s easy to get caught up in it but you pause and you’re like...this is really cool. This is what makes Rochester and New York State and the whole country really amazing is that we step up when it needs to happen."
Gordon says they are not asking for donations, they’re not a nonprofit, but people have been reaching out asking how they can help, so they have been taking donations to put towards future meals.
The full menu is opened to anyone affected by the government shutdown with proper ID, but alcohol is not included.