NewsPositively San Diego


Restaurant promising thousands of free meals amid pandemic

Posted at 5:17 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 21:32:32-05

SAN DIEGO — When it comes to takeout and delivery, breakfast food just doesn't really cut it.

That's a problem for Johan Engman and his Rise and Shine Restaurant group, with the flagship Breakfast Republic.

"Imagine an eggs Benedict, a poached egg with hollandaise sauce. It doesn't travel that well," Engman said Tuesday.

Sales are down more than 90 percent and 450 employees were just furloughed amid the lockdown.

"It's heartbreaking, but what makes it even worse is that we're in the holiday season," Engman said.

But instead of simply giving up and hoping for another round of stimulus, Engman is keeping a couple extra workers on at Breakfast Republic's Mission Valley location - preparing what could turn into hundreds of free meals everyday for impacted workers or anyone in need - no questions asked.

"I mean, we're hemorrhaging money, but I think when the going gets tough, that's when you need to show character," Engman said.

Two years ago, Rise and Shine Restaurants created a nonprofit that got a dollar for every sold breakfast burritos, one of the most popular items. That money has, for instance, been used to make thousand-dollar donations to other nonprofits nominated by customers.

And during the march lockdown, the nonprofit bought $52,000 worth of meals for the public - about 6,400, and it has about that much cash left this time.

"We have a little chunk of money there that we want to put to good use," Engman said.

And while breakfast is in the name - it's not breakfast being served for free. Instead, it's comfort food - like meatloaf, chicken and lasagna.

The meals are given out daily at Breakfast Republic's Mission Valley location, at 1570 Camino de la Reina, from 8 A.M. To 2 P.M.