Whenever I choose what to write about, I start by going with my gut. This means that whatever pops into my head first will gain the most traction. While I like to think that those things pop up first for a reason, it's flawed. It can be subject to personal bias, convenience, or marketing.
Midtown restaurant Feast hasn't been first in my mind very often, which is a shame. No shortage of quality or creativity there; I just haven't visited often. But through the current pandemic, they've been lingering in the forefront of my mind.
A significant part of it had to do with this post:
Countless businesses couldn't avoid employee furloughs, but Feast has somehow managed to avoid most of it. I emailed owner-chef Doug Levy on Tuesday to check in and he responded:
We have one employee who is in a vulnerable population and we and he agreed to take him off the roster until we all feel it's safe for him to be here, and our catering staff — the ones who actually go out and work the events — obviously had the bottom drop out from under them, so our catering director had to be furloughed. The other caterers pretty much do it as a second job, so they haven't been too worried about it. As for the restaurant staff, they've all kept their jobs, though we're not open as late and there's markedly less business so everyone has taken a hit in terms of hours and tips, but no one else has been furloughed.
Additionally, I noticed a wide array of local health organizations posting about their donated meals from Feast:
I also asked Levy for the numbers on the donated meals so far this year:
[...] tomorrow's donations to Northwest Hospital and Encompass Health put us at 1738 meals so far. 352 of those have been donated by Feast; the others have been donated by our guests and friends and other members of the community, and when the donations overshoot our goal, we just roll them into the next donation run. It's really helped us stay busy and keep the whole restaurant staff (and a couple of members of the catering staff) employed. We still have Diamond Children's Hospital on our list and we're going to circle back to the Emergency Department at Banner UA Campus, and we have St. Mary's coming up at some point too. We're also working on a fundraising event to fill in for the fact that social distancing protocols will keep us from doing the Primavera Cooks event this year- I'll be sending out more information on that as it solidifies- and PACC is on the list since they're taking care of pets for people who've lost their jobs or income and can't care for them themselves.
And with that, I wanted to say thank you, Feast.
Other restaurants have been active with community work as well, and we want them recognized. Please share their stories in the comments for Tucson to see.
For more information on Feast's history, read our December 2018 article Feast’s Ever-changing Menu Will Keep You on Your Toes.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he...