Mark BBQ has served thousands of free meals since beginning of pandemic

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Mark BBQ in Essex believes their restaurant is about more than just food, especially during a time like this.

“To me, in moments like this it’s that time when you have to say am I gonna step back and worry about just me? Or am I gonna step forward and worry about my neighbor?” said owner Darrel Langworthy. 

Mark BBQ is known for its smoked barbecue and comfort food. Before the pandemic they hosted what they call Mission Sundays. Each Sunday, they would open their restaurant when they are normally closed, and all proceeds would benefit a charity. Now, owner Darrell Langworthy said he saw another immediate need to give back in response to COVID-19.

“People are going to need to be fed.  They are waiting on unemployment and various other things that people are still waiting on now. We decided as a whole… I called my entire staff in that we would provide meals even if only one day a week we would at least do that,” said Langworthy.

Mark BBQ is offering meals to anyone feeling food insecure. People can reach out to Mark BBQ on Facebook and pick up meals on Wednesday. Mark BBQ will also deliver meals to people who are food insecure and unable to make it to the restaurant.

Head Chef Shawn Trepanier said he looks forward to Wednesdays. “My favorite day of work is Wednesday, the day we do meals. Just to see the people come in who need the meals and the happiness on their face,” said Trepanier. “It’s a different feeling than having a restaurant full of people that are dining out.”

Langworthy said profits they bring in each week go towards the meals on Wednesday. They are calling the program Marks Heart Initiative and Langworthy said it really is touching the hearts of so many.

“I got a message from a lady last week where she said she looks forward to Wednesday because it’s the only hot meal she guaranteed,” said Langworthy.

The program has grown over the weeks and Langworthy said he has received calls from all over the state. While all Mark BBQ employees are still working, he says he will need donations from the public in order to help feed people all over who are food insecure.

“We are asking for help now. We are at that point where we want to expand. We want to set up a pickup site in Milton next week,” said Langworthy.

Langworthy hopes to continue the program after the pandemic is over and he encourages other restaurants to do the same.

“We can fix this. We can do something about it, but it takes more than just one person and one restaurant. This takes a movement of people putting people before themselves sometimes and then business wise maybe putting people before profit a little bit,” said Langworthy.

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