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Courtenay restaurant owner adopts ingenious tactic to give back

Yummies & Gyros Greek Cafe started a pay-it-forward promotion to help feed those in need
Katherine Kirk (front), owner of Yummies & Gyros Greek Cafe, started a pay-it-forward promotion to help those in need on April 8. (Olivier Laurin / Comox Valley Record)

While she was prawn-fishing over the weekend, Katherine Kirk, owner of Yummies & Gyros Greek Cafe in Courtenay, devised an ingenious way to feed those in need.

“I was… having a chat (with my son’s fiancée) when she commented about this ‘paying it forward’ (formula) to help people who are less fortunate than us,” Kirk said. “We’ve seen other restaurants in other towns doing it (so) I came home and just posted it on my Facebook page.”

Located at 279 Puntledge Rd., Kirk adopted this new tactic, currently gaining traction in Canada and the U.S., on April 8.

As the owner explained, the idea behind this concept is quite simple.

“When people buy a lunch, we’ll put the receipt (with their name) on the bulletin board,” she said. “Whoever needs a lunch can come and pick from the board and then submit the receipt to us at the till and they can get a free lunch.”

In turn, the names of everyone doing a good deed will enter a draw to win a free meal in the future.

Observing firsthand the financial challenges many face due to rising living costs, Kirk emphasized that small acts of kindness can significantly impact someone’s day.

“I found people eating out of the garbage can and I’ve given them food, sleeping bags and some hot chocolate,” said Kirk. “But this isn’t just for the homeless people; it’s for the single moms, the people that are living in trailers (or) in their cars and the families that are struggling with five kids.”

Twenty-five years ago, Kirk was a single mother on welfare before taking over the family business from her sister. Today, her restaurant sustains her and enables her to give back to the community; it’s in this spirit that she invites everyone who has the means to follow suit.

“I’ve had people coming in (to buy) some lunches and take them down to the guys at the recycling store (or give it to) people that are homeless out here,” she said. “There are a lot of amazing people in town who have a lot of money and want to help out.”