Values before profit: This man turned his restaurant into a donation center

At the Optimist Daily, we like to honor the everyday heroes that make communities thrive. Today we bring you a story out of Minneapolis where a local restaurant owner has turned his restaurant into a community outpost for those protesting police violence. Here’s his story.

Tomme Beevas co-founded his Twin Cities-based Pimento Jamaican Kitchen with just a gas grill and a $99 tent from Target. The Jamaican native moved to the U.S. in 1999 to study economics and political science. He would come home from his corporate job–leading community involvement at Cargill–and fire up his backyard grill to create the tastes of home. It ignited a business. 

Beevas and his neighbor Yoni Reinharz launched Pimento Jamaican Kitchen in 2012 and quickly gained recognition–the duo won on the Food Network’s reality competition show Food Court Wars a year later. Now the pair have a Minneapolis restaurant, a St. Paul eatery, an outpost in the Minneapolis TCF Bank Stadium, and a food truck. The company has grown revenue by 20 percent annually and booked more than $2 million in revenue last year, Beevas told Inc. 

This past week, Beevas and his team turned the Minneapolis location into a donation and staging center for essential supplies like masks, gloves, food, and water. The protests made it difficult for people to get crucial goods, prompting Beevas to issue a call on Twitter asking for supplies. 

“We saw the need to step up. We closed the restaurant’s food services on Sunday to focus on relief services. Neighbors and people from around the world have been sending Amazon orders filled with things our community needs. We’re getting supplies and passing them directly to our community because grocery stores are closed. We’ve been able to feed 2,000 neighbors between Thursday and Tuesday.”

Beeves would later go on to say this: “As a black man in America, we have always lived with the threats and comments being made. In my ultra-liberal, ultra-educated, and ultra-affluent community, I fear taking my garbage out every single night. The fear that I could be targeted, or the restaurant could be targeted, is an everyday occurrence in our lives in America. That’s why we’re at the forefront ensuring that it never happens again.”

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