A modest Middle Eastern restaurant in Canada’s Montreal making headlines now, just because of a poster they have put up at the restaurant. “People with no money welcome to eat free,” it reads.
“We do not ask any questions, we do not judge people. They want to eat, [we] give them the food. That’s it, that’s all,” co-owner Yahya Hashemi said.
Marche Ferdous, the restaurant in downtown Montreal, just down the street from Concordia University and not far from an Anglican Church where many homeless and itinerant Montrealers hang out, offers Middle Eastern dishes like chicken shawarma and falafel sandwiches, kofta, hummus, rice and salads, and desserts like baklava.
The idea was a spontaneous one.“We didn’t plan it,” another co-owner Ala Amiry said.
We saw that some people are shy and embarrassed to ask for food. We believe in giving to the poor and to the needy. It’s breaking our heart to see some hungry people [that] don’t have money to eat. Hunger is something that touches the dignity of humanityAla Amiry, co-owner of the restaurant
A sign written in both English and French and posted on the front door by Amiry’s daughter, Ramine, invites anyone without the means to pay for a meal to come into Marche Ferdous and eat anyway – on the house.
“We don't think about how much it will cost us. We never thought there’d be any reaction. To us, this is very normal. It’s a value we were raised with,” co-owner, Yahya Hashemi, who is originally from Iran was quoted by The Montreal Gazette.
The restaurant first gained widespread attention earlier this week after Montreal resident Sean Jalbert posted about his experience there on Facebook.
By Friday evening, his Facebook post had been shared more than 5,900 times and garnered over 3,500 likes.