Kazi Mannan runs Sakina Halal Grill restaurant at K Street in Northwest D.C. But it’s not just another high-end restaurant. Blocks away from the White House, the restaurant keeps its doors open for poor and homeless people to serve free meals for them every day.
“That question, I ask God every day. How do I keep my business open, growing and making a profit?” Mannan told ABC7. “If someone says I need a free meal, OK.”
No questions are asked. The poor, hungry and homeless people come in at lunch hour or any time of the day, and take their food for free along with other regular customers. This has been the restaurant policy over the last five years.
“If you can’t afford a meal, come in and have a free meal. Enjoy the same atmosphere that everybody who is paying is enjoying,” said Mannan.
According to Mannan, more than 16,000 free meals were served to the poor and homeless in 2018. Mannan and his restaurant staff are by now familiar with the homeless community of D.C. who visit the restaurant to have their free meals.
“We have so many that are like a regular guest. We know them and what they want to eat,” said Mannan. “Some have teeth problems so we give them boneless chicken, tender. For some, the alcohol and the drugs, a lot of people have teeth problems.”
Kazi Mannan’s Sakina Halal Grill in Washington DC gives away free food to the poor and homeless EVERYDAY. We need more restaurants worldwide to follow his lead! #EliteCircle???? pic.twitter.com/fNjzIpf4C0
— #EliteCircle (@EliteCircleDU) February 11, 2019
Coming from a small village in Pakistan, Mannan arrived in the U.S. in 1996 with less than $5 in his pocket. He could not even afford to buy food.
“You pass by a restaurant but never able to go in. When you don’t have money, nobody is going to let you in,” he said.
When Mannan opened his own restaurant in 2013, he decided to allow homeless people to eat free meals there.
He said some people were concerned that many homeless individuals suffer from mental and health issues and that letting them come in will ruin his business.
“I tell them to look at my life and look at my restaurant – does this look dirty to you?” he asks.
Mannan doesn’t want any donation. He says he’s trying to “worship our Creator through food.”
If people come in to eat, he added, that will also support a community restaurant that’s serving food to those who can’t afford it.