- the coast
- Chico Al-Rashaydeh puts the finishing touch—garlic sauce—on a shawarma poutine.
In late March, Basha Mediterranean Cuisine co-owner Chico Al-Rashaydeh began hearing stories of pandemic layoffs. "We found that a lot of people have no money and no income, they lost their job, and nobody knows what to do," he tells The Coast.
Along with his two brothers, Al-Rashaydeh decided to do something. Since then, Basha has given away about 300 meals a month to people of all kinds. The response has been overwhelmingly thankful, including some kudos in the BOH survey, but the main goal was to give back.
"We had people saying they never had a hot meal like this in three days. So that just touched our heart, right?" says Al-Rashaydeh, who is originally from Jordan and moved here to study, opening Basha in 2015 after graduating from SMU.
Originally, the plan was to continue until government assistance kicked in. But Basha is still offering meals. Most referrals come from the nearby Universalist Unitarian church on Inglis Street, but anyone can request a free plate if they've fallen on hard times.
At the start of November, Basha reached the five-year anniversary of being in business, and Al-Rashaydeh says he's glad to have become an integral part of the Halifax community.
"We get help from the community, and the community helps us as well."