Perfectly Frank has been proudly serving diner classic in its Norfolk, Virginia community since 2005. With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the local establishment was unsure if the diner business could survive.
Anyone in need of a good meal can visit the establishment and pull a ticket off of the “Franks for Friends” bulletin meal, in exchange for a menu item.
“Maybe COVID hit them really hard, or they’re in between jobs — or maybe they’re taking a meal for their neighbor…
We don’t ask any questions.”Tarah Morris, Owner via CNN
The donation board system was inspired by a single donation.
When Perfectly Frank’s reopened recently, the donations slowly stopped coming in, as people assumed that business and life would resume as normal. However, the majority of the Perfectly Franks staff are college students and were struggling to make ends meet.
According to CNN, when a friend and longtime customer of Morris’ heard this, they donated $2,000 to the restaurant, insisting that $100 went to each staff member and the remainder of the money went toward feeding the community. With the remaining $700, Morris started giving away free meals.
From there, the initiative quickly evolved, and customers started making donations toward free meals as well. A bulletin board was erected and a clipboard was designated for “Franks For Friends,” with a variety of meals being presented on the board.
Customers are able to redeem their tickets at the register, and are able to customize their order and select a drink option. The menu consists of a variety of hot dogs, sandwiches, and salads, but cheeseburgers remain as the most popular menu item.
“I had no idea that was going to happen… We began collecting meals faster than we were giving them away.”Tarah Morris via CNN
Morris says that an average of five meals a day are claimed by hungry individuals—and there are many more meals that are available.
To get more meals out, twice a week, the Perfectly Franks staff prepares bulk orders for local after-school programs. Thus far, the restaurant has donated over 100 free meals to the community, and there’s plenty more to come. The surplus of donations is overwhelming.
“I’m hoping it goes on forever, at the rate the donations are coming in, I feel like it’ll never stop… Coming off of Covid and all the hardships, we didn’t know if we were even going to make it…
We went from ground zero to as high as you can go. It’s been very uplifting, very humbling. We know we’re going to be OK.”Tarah Morris via CNN
In the future, Morris hopes to partner with local organizations to give away more bulk meals.