GR restaurants band together to feed families in need


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Although Jake Prell is without a job, he hasn’t stopped working.

“We want to feed people,” said Prell.

Prell said he was a longtime piano player at Mojo’s Dueling Piano Bar and Restaurant but was recently laid off.

“I woke up on Sunday with my kid and found out I didn’t have a job after 20 years,” said Prell.

The bar closed to combat the spread of the coronavirus, so he opened his heart to help other moms and dads like him.

In a video he posted to Facebook, Prell called on everyone to help gather food and create meals for workers without a steady paycheck.

His plea for help didn’t fall on deaf ears. Chris Madsen, executive chef at Amway Grand Plaza, pledges his support.

“We donated some vegetables, some produce bags and about 100 loaves of bread from our bakery,” said Madsen. “Even though we’re supposed to be isolated and distance ourselves from each other, we still have the ability to help.”

Other restaurants like Red Lobster, Logan’s Roadhouse, The Chop House and Palio followed suit. All volunteers dropped off their food at Flanagan’s Irish Pub, where it’s repackaged and prepared.

Pub owner and General Manager, Ben Stoneman, opened his doors to make his restaurant the hub for all donations. He said some of his own workers are lending a hand. None of them are getting paid.

“They’re the heroes in this,” said Stoneman. “This is really helping a lot of people.”

Prell urged all volunteers never to underestimate the power of social media, as it was the launchpad for an outpouring of support. Although he currently can’t play the keys for a living, Prell is still using his hands to make a difference.

“There was no way I could’ve done this by myself,” said Prell. “No way!”

Volunteers told News 8 they have already fed more than 200 families with donations from area restaurants. Anyone in need of a hot meal may connect with them here.

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