Amer Abdullah, owner of Cedars at 1206 E. 53rd Street, was talking with restaurant employee Kinan Moufti about how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting their family members, many of whom work in Chicago-area hospitals on the front lines of this global healthcare crisis.
Moufti’s brother in law is a resident at UChicago Medicine, while three of Abdullah’s siblings are healthcare workers at Advocate Christ Medical Center and Silver Cross Hospitals.
Cedars has a 25+ year history in Hyde Park, begun with Abdullah’s father, Sudki, and was recently profiled in a 53rd Street Blog article after its reopening earlier this year. Abdullah and Moufti decided the best way to show their support was through the restaurant – providing their Mediterranean meals for the healthcare workers.
Abdullah started with a free food donation to UChicago Medicine on March 26, and since then, has been independently fundraising and donating meals to hospitals throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs including Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Provident Hospital of Cook County, Rush University Medical Center, and West Suburban Medical Center. With UChicago Medicine located so close to the restaurant, Abdullah has made multiple meal deliveries there. He originally planned on one fundraising “pot” for all the donations, but realized it was too difficult to allocate the monies to multiple hospitals and has since started mini fundraisers for each hospital campaign. With sales down more than 80% at the restaurant, the donated meals for healthcare workers are a way to stay in business while helping the healthcare community at the same time.
Cedars prepares an individually packaged chicken shawarma meal with rice and grilled vegetables or a vegetarian falafel wrap with crispy potatoes for a $10 donation per person. Currently, Abdullah is trying to raise enough money to feed 240 workers in nine COVID units at Rush this Wednesday, April 22, with donations accepted here.
In addition to the meals for healthcare workers, Cedars is offering a limited menu for take-out and delivery orders. Follow Cedars on Facebook to keep up to date with current fundraisers, or contact Abdullah via email if you’d like to propose a specific hospital recipient or sponsor a day of meals at a particular hospital.