Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod have been serving free meals to school children and hospital workers throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Here is their story, in their own words.
The past three weeks have felt like three years. A storm came through flipped our worlds upside down — a not-so-gentle reminder of how little control we have, that the best laid plans are just those — plans.
At Rasa we had closed a round of funding and were gearing up to open our second and third restaurants. In the span of one week, everything changed and we went from planning pre-opening parties to contemplating how to simply keep the doors open at our existing restaurant.
The flip switched, and it has been non-stop ever since. We have been in full-on survival mode, attempting to care for the health of our employees, guests, community and our business all at once. Every day has been a complete rollercoaster, with new guidance and updates coming in from the local and federal government on a seemingly minute-by-minute basis, and we have been doing our best to keep up and make sense of the situation.
The virus has impacted sales dramatically, and as a result, we have been confronted with many impossible choices, including what to do with our employees, how to handle rent negotiations and vendor relations. We have stayed open for takeout and delivery so that we can continue employing as many people as possible, but have had to furlough a number of staff members due to the decreased sales volume.
To help support our team members during this time, we have expanded upon our free employee meal program, and are offering free meals to our furloughed employees and their families.
We also asked ourselves how we might be part of the solution using our resources as a small business, and have been providing free meals to school children and hospital workers. We are looking to expand upon the program, and hope to begin feeding more frontline workers soon.
COVID-19 is a dark cloud that will hang over our industry and planet for years to come, but we are doing our best to stay positive, support the community, and make the best of an extremely difficult time.
This is part of our Stories from the Front Lines series.