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Wichita cafe with ties to Lebanon helps in Beirut explosion relief

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 9:17 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - N&J Cafe saw a turnout like never before on Saturday, selling out of food and having to close early. The Cafe is donating 100% of Saturday’s proceeds to the Lebanese Red Cross.

In all, the restaurant raised a little less than $12,000.

“We saw what happened, everyone’s seen that video and it’s unforgettable,” said Co-owner Nick Srour. “It’s terrible, we know people there who have nothing left, their houses are completely gone and they’re living on the streets.”

Srour's father, the founder of N&J Cafe, grew up in a town an hour from Beirut.

The Cafe ran out of food due to the number of customers, which forced them to close hours earlier than usual. They were overflowing with to-go orders all day, and despite bringing in extra staff, customers waited hours for their meals.

"The donations is the reason we came here today," said customer Judy Graham-Edson. "I just think it's amazing that they do that and that we here in Wichita in the middle of the US can help that country."

Srour said he's blown away by the support of the community.

"I've been in this building for 30 years, my dad built it with his bare hands and to see that the city still wants to be here and still help out, people have been coming and giving donations and not even eating," said Srour. "People have been just handing me money on the streets, making sure it gets to the donation pile, it's unbelievable."

N&J Cafe Front of House Manager Geremy St. James said Saturday was stressful, but also rewarding.

“It was a very emotional day and we couldn’t believe to have so many people come out and wanting to donate and wanting to help out and sending their love to such a faraway place and it was just amazing, truly amazing,” she said.

MFI Deli and Tanya’s Soup Kitchen will also donate a portion of their proceeds Saturday to relief efforts in Lebanon.

A little more than one week since a devastating explosion in the Lebanese capital of Beirut killed at least 135 people and injured thousands more, a country already facing economic woes was further thrown into crisis.

Since the Aug. 4 explosion, people and companies around the world have donated time and money to help the Lebanese community. This includes people in Wichita. The founder of Wichita’s N&J Cafe and Bakery used to live about an hour from Beirut.

N&J Cafe, located at the corner of Lincoln and Edgemoor, has been around for about 30 years. The sons of the original owners have recently taken over and felt compelled to make a difference for the people in Lebanon. On Saturday (Aug. 15) 100 percent of the cafe’s proceeds will be donated to relief efforts in Lebanon.

Update: We are overwhelmed by the support of our wonderful community! We just spoke to the amazing Kelly and Jordan over...

Posted by N & J Cafe on Wednesday, August 12, 2020

“It’s devastating. We have family over there,” N&J Co-owner Nick Srour said. “Luckily, nobody that we’re related to has been physically harmed, but all of their houses are gone. It’s an entire city where people are just devastated. We had an opportunity to help and we thought it was a good idea.”

The cafe’s owners plan to donate the funds directly to the Lebanese Red Cross. With widespread interest in helping the cause, N&J has added for staff for Saturday to accommodate the expected customer increase. The owners ask that people be patient as they try to fill all of the orders.

“People want to help. They have no connection to (Lebanon), they don’t have family there, and they know that this city has a strong Lebanese influence, and they want to be part of it, and they want to help,” Srour said. “It’s fantastic. It fills my heart. My brother, I know, is very happy about it. We’re blessed to be able to help out as much as we can.”

On Saturday, N&J Cafe will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Adding to their charitable effort, another Wichita restaurant, Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, has also decided to chip in. Also on Saturday, Tanya’s will donate 20 percent of its sales.

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