Good Neighbors

Restaurant Dedicates Grand Opening To Local First Responders

When they were forced to postpone their big party due to the coronavirus, they decided to help the community instead.

Two weeks ago, Havana Cigar Lounge in Fishers, IN was gearing up for a lavish grand opening celebration. The silverware was freshly polished, the walk-in humidor stocked with high-end cigars, and the Latin-style menu had been tweaked to perfection.

Then, the coronavirus happened.

A week before the restaurant was scheduled to open, Indiana governor Eric Holcomb gave a state-wide order to close all restaurants and non-essential businesses to help stop the spread of the virus.

The swanky lounge was supposed to have their grand opening party on Saturday, March 21st. Havana Cigar Lounge Fishers/Facebook

Havana's owner Omar Barham knew cancelling was the right thing to do, but he couldn't help feeling disappointed that the party wouldn't go off as planned. Barham said the grand opening "would have been one for the record books. Ice sculptures, skylights, six-person live band..." You get the picture.

But a change in plans wasn't going to stop Barham and his staff from using their resources to do something good for the community.

Omar Barham sits in his empty restaurant on what should have been its grand opening. Havana Cigar Lounge Fishers/Facebook

Instead of the lavish celebration that was originally scheduled, Barham decided to dedicate the lounge's grand opening to the people working hard to protect the community during the crisis.

"We wanted to spend the time and money on something more meaningful and be mindful of the difficult time at hand that we are all facing together," Barham told the IndyStar.

On Saturday, Barham and his staff prepared 400 meals and invited local first responders to pick them up via curbside service at the restaurant. Staff members wearing gloves and masks handed the meals out to a steady stream of police and EMS vehicles throughout the day.

Barham and his staff served 400 meals to the city's first responders. Havana Cigar Lounge Fishers/Facebook

While Barham is not sure when the all-closed order will be lifted and the restaurant will finally be able to open its doors, he's planning to do more events to help others in the meantime.

The restaurant prepared meals from their Latin-inspired menu for first responders. Havana Cigar Lounge Fishers/Facebook

"This is the message: Be hopeful and optimistic," Barham wrote in a Facebook post after the grand opening. "Life will always find a way. We as a community & as a nation are much stronger than this. We need to adapt a little & focus on health & family. Money and economics are important, but we will deal with that later."

What an amazing act of kindness. Kudos to Barham and his team for turning an event that could have easily been canceled into an inspiring effort to bring joy to their community.

Barham plans to do more events to help his community soon. Havana Cigar Lounge Fishers/Facebook

How can you start something good?

Restaurant owners and employees all over the country are doing their part to help others during the coronavirus crisis.

You can show support for YOUR favorite restaurants by ordering take out or delivery, or you can purchase gift cards to use at a later time.

Another way to help is to sign the petition, started by celebrity chefs to encourage the government to take swift action to help the restaurant industry stay afloat during the closures.

Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

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