El Sapo Cuban Social Club and Urban Butcher have begun providing free meals to senior citizens, according to chef/owner Raynold Mendizábal.

“We went to The Bonifant building and we’re going to be taking care of them for the time being,” he said.

The restaurant started by serving 50 meals yesterday, and that number may increase, Mendizábal said.

“It’s not just the fact that they need the food itself,” he added. “We got together in the lobby. You could see a little bit of life coming back to them and happiness by communing again.

“We are thinking about providing food, but we need to provide them also with laughter and happiness in these rough times,” he continued.

He will alternate the service, providing residents with food from each restaurant, Mendizábal said.

The restaurants also will provide discounts on all carryout orders, Mendizábal said, which will help provide funding to feed the senior citizens. Today’s announcement by Gov. Larry Hogan ordering the closure of all restaurants at 5 p.m.today does not affect takeout or delivery operations, according to the announcement video on the Baltimore Sun.

Mendizábal also said he hoped other restaurants will step up to help needy or vulnerable residents.

“This is not an organized effort,” he said, though he is working with Reemberto Rodriguez, director of the Silver Spring Regional Center.

“We’re compiling a list of places in distress,” Mendizábal said. “Any restaurant that can concentrate on one place [so] we don’t waste energy and effort, that would be wonderful.”

Interested parties who’d like to know more, or to participate, can contact Mendizábal at 202.246.5083 or [email protected] “for anything I can do to help.”

In the meantime, he plans to continue helping residents of The Bonifant.

“I don’t have a time commitment,” Mendizábal said. “Whenever I have food, those elderly are going to have food as well.

“We love Silver Spring, so anything we can do to help,” he continued. “For as long as I have the money in my pocket, we’re going to share it.”

Top photo, chef/owner Raynold Mendizábal and El Sapo staff prepare meals for The Bonifant residents. Below, Mendizábal greets residents. Photos courtesy El Sapo.

Local Restaurants Giving Free Meals to Bonifant Residents, Discounts on Take Out

Local Restaurants Giving Free Meals to Bonifant Residents, Discounts on Take Out