Vincent, 1475 W. Balmoral Ave. in Andersonville, is giving away free meals to out-of-work service employees. Credit: Instagram/Vincent

ANDERSONVILLE — An Andersonville restaurant is helping hospitality workers left reeling amid mandated closures and social distancing.

Starting tonight, the restaurant Vincent will offer free packaged meals to service workers and neighborhood residents in need of a hand.

Vincent, 1475 W. Balmoral Ave., is looking to give out about 80-100 meals to service workers and the public tonight, chef/owner Michael Bransford said. Starting around 5 p.m., restaurant staff will hand out the meals until they run out.

“Our first reaction was to do something positive for the community we live in,” Bransford said. “Andersonville has been very good to us for 10 years. We wanted to immediately offer any help we could.”

The coronavirus outbreak has dealt a massive blow to the hospitality industry, with the state of Illinois mandating take-out only service and the closure of bars and gatherings of 50 or more people. Hundred of restaurants across the city have launched fundraisers for their workers, while food business owners and managers have lobbied for government assistance for the industry.

Vincent is offering the free meals to the public in lieu of the staff meal restaurants typically have before service, known as “comida.” Bransford said he is hoping to do multiple meal giveaways, and will be accepting donations Wednesday. On Thursday, $6.50 of every burger purchased from the restaurant (on its regular burger night) will go towards providing the free meals, Bransford said.

The idea is to help restaurant industry staff in a bind, but Bransford also wants to reach elderly Andersonville residents and others impacted by the virus and the city’s mitigation efforts. Those interested in receiving a delivered meal can call the restaurant at 773-334-7168.

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