AVONDALE — Last week, the owners of D-Men Tap were raising money for service industry workers impacted by the coronavirus shutdown.
But after massive demonstrations protesting the police killing of George Floyd, the owners of the Avondale bar and restaurant shifted the focus of the fundraiser. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, they’re now providing food and other donations to those West Side communities.
“Everyone can do something to help, whether its donate money, read literature written by people of color, try to listen and engage your friends and family that might be showing signs of ignorance. … Just educate yourself, listen,” said co-owner Shawn Podgurski.
Podgurski said he and Dave Duchek and Phil Naumann, also owners of D-Men Tap at 2849 W. Belmont Ave., quickly mobilized for their refocused fundraiser. They prepared dozens of their signature döner rice bowls and hopped in their DönerMen food truck, which predates their bar and restaurant.
“There wasn’t a lot of chit chat going on. It was very boots on the ground,” Podgurski said.
On Wednesday, the first day of the giveaways, the D-Men Tap crew gave out 150 meals, first to a cleanup crew at Madison Street and California Avenue, to people at the Westside Justice Center and then to people at the Garfield Park Field House, Podgurski said.
The owners said anyone who wanted to withdraw their donation because the mission of the fundraiser changed was able to do so.
But no one backed out. People only donated more, Podgurski said.
The owners had raised $3,345 as of Thursday evening, more than double their $1,500 goal. The donations will allow the D-Men Tap crew to continue giving meals, snacks, toiletries and hard-to-find grocery items to cleanup crews, neighborhood centers and people experiencing homelessness on the West Side through Friday, Podgurski said.
“It felt like we were getting it to the people who really need it, the people who would be most affected by something [by] what happened,” Podgurski said.
Still, Podgurski said it’s important to note his bar and restaurant is just one of many that have stepped up over the last several days.
“We’re certainly not the only ones who have been doing something like this,” Podgurski said. “We’re not anything special.”
As for D-Men Tap, Podgurski on Wednesday said he’s confident the bar and restaurant will make it to the other side of the coronavirus shutdown “better than ever” thanks to the support they’ve received from neighbors.
“We’re going to make it. We’re all going to make it,” he said, pausing before adding, “What I saw today is proof we’re all going to make it.”
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