Caitlin Cullen has been the proud owner of The Tandem since 2016. The restaurant is based in the Lindsey Heights neighborhood of Milwaukee, which, after years of dealing with high levels of both unemployment and poverty, has seen a recent rise in community investment. While all of the social-entrepreneurial businesses in the neighborhood have unique origins, they may all come to a very similar end.

Last week, countless restaurants across the country shuttered their doors in lieu of take-out-only options, The Tandem was one of them. But instead of throwing in the proverbial towel, owner Caitlin Cullen is putting her food stock to good use.

Because many individuals in the community may not have strong job security or deep savings during the COVID-19 crisis, many inevitable needs are going to arise. Cullen plans to fulfill at least one of them.

Almost as soon as it closed its doors to dine-in patrons, The Tandem has been giving out up to 150 free meals per day to those who need them most. Up North News spoke with Cullen about the program:

“Servers are used to being able to eat at the restaurant they work at, and living paycheck to paycheck is not so terrible. But living no paycheck to no paycheck is really difficult. We want to make sure that meals stay good and dignified.”

She continues, bluntly, “Half the restaurants in the city aren’t going to come out of this alive, even with loans. We can’t sit on product like this. And our staff, even if our restaurant manages to survive, who will be there to work at the end after everyone’s been decimated? If we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down doing what we do, which is taking care of our neighbors.”

You can read more about what The Tandem is doing to help their Milwaukee neighborhood here.

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