It’s no secret that a lot of people and businesses are suffering right now – you just need to look at the number of shuttered shopfronts on your local high street to get a sense of the economic damage Covid-19 has caused. But even though they’re enduring the same hardships as the rest of us, some champions of the industry are turning outwards and giving back to the communities that have long supported them.

An inner-west Turkish stalwart has started up a soup kitchen, a Melbourne import is offering half-price meals to healthcare and emergency workers on the frontline, and a doughnut stop is getting in on the action, delivering meal packs to the vulnerable. Meet the businesses shining a light in the dark and embodying community spirit. They’re all doing takeaway too, so if you can, support them as they are supporting others.

For 13 years Balmain diner Efendy has been serving those in the inner west and beyond comforting, traditional Turkish meals (including huge $35 weekend brekkies). Now, it’s giving back to the community that’s supported it for so long by opening a soup kitchen on its premises from 4pm to 9pm daily. It’ll serve a different variety each day – it might be yoghurt and barley on a Monday, and vegan soup with red lentils, potatoes and carrots on Tuesday – with warm bread. The owners suggest donating a gold coin if you can, but say they just want to do their bit for a city in strife. “If we are going down, we are not doing that without saying thank you to all our neighbours and the community that supported us so dearly over the last 13 years,” they wrote on Facebook.

Colombo Social
Colombo Social might be the new kid on the Enmore Road block, but helping others is in its DNA. It already supports recent refugees by giving them jobs serving a contemporary spin on Sri Lankan food, and for every meal you buy it donates two meals to someone who needs them in the local community. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, and in partnership with suppliers and charity partners including Mission Australia, it’s serving more than 2000 hot meals each day to people who are struggling to feed their families. The profit-for-good restaurant is working with local charities to have the meals delivered to vulnerable families free of charge.

Chin Chin
Pan-Asian Melbourne import Chin Chin knows that it is healthcare and emergency workers who are bearing the brunt of the effort to contain the coronavirus. To help, it’s offering those workers 50 per cent off their bills if they phone in their order. That means half-price on the diner’s braised-beef massaman curry, Wagyu pad seuw, bottles of white, red and rosé, and more. To claim the discount, all frontline workers need to do is show their work ID with a matching photo identification when picking up their order. For everyone else, Chin Chin now has a killer takeaway menu.

Some of us are struggling a little more than others right now, so champagne/sneaker/fried-chicken store Butter is giving those of us fortunate enough to have a spare 20 bucks a way of giving back. Visit its website and buy a $20 “pay it forward” gift voucher, or when you order pick-up or takeaway over the phone, mention you’d like to contribute (if you’re ordering via Uber Eats or Deliveroo, select “special menu item”). Butter and sister restaurant Thievery in Glebe will then use the money to make two free meals. Those in need of something to eat can head in to one of the three restaurants on Tuesdays and Saturdays and talk to staff, who will get them a fresh and nourishing meal. They’ve modelled the dishes on what Butter serves for “staffies” (staff meals). “This is going to run on the honesty system; we are not Centrelink and we will not be asking people why they count as vulnerable or for any information on their situation or anything silly like that,” says executive chef Julian Cincotta.

Nutie Donuts
Despite the name, Nutie Donuts doesn’t just sell doughnuts. At the moment, it’s also selling a slew of gluten-free lunch and dinner packs so you can feel as though you’re eating at a restaurant in your own home. It’s also giving customers the chance to spend a bit more and get a meal delivered to someone in need. Just select a pay-it-forward meal pack when you order (Nutie is selling them at cost price) and it will deliver whichever pack is going that day.

More Sydney venues are helping those who need it. Check out this story.

Covid-19 (coronavirus) means we’re living in unprecedented and uncertain times. Mass public gatherings are banned and minimal social contact is recommended. If you have concerns about visiting businesses or public spaces, or questions about self-isolation or coronavirus testing, check out the latest updates from NSW Health.