LeBron James loves Taco Tuesdays. We see that on his Instagram feed when he’s having fun with his family at dinner and yelling, “Tacoooo Tooooooooosssday!”
Taco Tuesday took on a new meaning yesterday as James and the LeBron James Family Foundation helped an Akron, Ohio, restaurant that has been affected by coronavirus. James' foundation fed 340 I Promise School students and their families chicken and beef tacos, rice, beans and tortillas with all the fixings.
Call it a special edition of Taco Tuesday, and it will happen again next week, when the foundation delivers even more meals to Akron families connected to James’ I Promise program.
Akron Family Restaurant opened in 1986 and is a block away from St. Vincent-St. Mary, where James attended high school. James has eaten there, and Dru Joyce, who coaches St. Vincent-St. Mary and coached James, still takes his team there for pregame meals. It’s a place for Akron’s power players to share a meal. Crain’s Cleveland called it the eatery where the city’s movers and shakers meet.
But the restaurant hasn’t been open for dine-in customers in more than a week, since Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said bars and restaurants could be open for carry-out and delivery only.
Restaurants across the country have been hit hard. Akron Family has been around long enough that co-owner Nick Corpas said the family-owned business should be able to withstand the effects of the virus. Right now, Corpas said he’s just doing catering.
“It’s been tough,” Corpas said. “We’ve been here for 35 years. We’ve got a name for ourselves. We do good business. In the long run, yes, we’ll be fine.”
But in the short term, it has been difficult, especially for some of his employees who are not working regular hours.
Corpas also attended St. Vincent-St. Mary and knows James foundation staffers, some of whom dine and have meetings at his restaurant. When called, he didn’t hesitate.
“Wherever they need me, I’m there for them,” Corpas, 29, said.
He said he got a call last week and was excited to help. He started making his orders almost immediately and began prepping for the meals on Monday. He and restaurant employees arrived at the restaurant at 6 a.m. ET Tuesday to cook and assemble the meals.
They finished around 4 p.m., and LJFF volunteers parked cars outside the restaurant. Adhering to social distancing recommendations, the volunteers remained in their cars while workers and volunteers placed the food in trunks.
Each serving tray provided food for four to five people — enough for more than 1,300 people to have dinner.
Volunteers then delivered meals, calling homes in advance to let them know when they would be arriving. Those families with children at the I Promise School, which is closed as the country tries to limit the spread, still have access to the food pantry at the school but were in need of a hot meal.
Corpas said one Akron Family Restaurant employee hadn’t worked in two weeks and had tears in her eyes as workers and volunteers finished loading meals into cars. The woman has children, and a couple of extra days of work ensured she could provide food for another week.
“It means a lot to me, my parents and my staff as well,” Corpas said. “We’re able to give them the opportunity to work and allow them to continue to work and help the foundation."
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