Last week, Michael Tabrizi, the owner of Tabrizi's, a catering venue and restaurant in the Harborview residences, asked for volunteers to help him organize a "Homeless Restaurant Week."
Tabrizi hopes to serve anywhere from 900 to 1,000 homeless guests at his restaurant during the week of July 20. And now, Tabrizi says, he has more volunteers than he needs, and his staff is "refusing to get paid" for that week.
"I don't want to turn volunteers away," Tabrizi said. Instead of helping to prepare or serve meals, volunteers will be invited to sit down with homeless guests over a dinner of chicken Cordon Bleu in sage cream sauce, spring salad, sparking apple cider and ice-cream waffle cone.
Tabrizi said his homeless restaurant week came after a brief encounter with a homeless person, to whom he gave his a few dollars and his business card, with an invitation to come see him at his restaurant
"I drove on, thinking to myself, 'What about all of the others?' That's when I decided to feed a thousand people," Tabrizi said.
Tabrizi said he is working with Dee O'Horan of the Baltimore City Concierge Association, a professional organization of hospitality industry workers, to help bring 150 guests each day for six days to Tabrizi's.
O'Horan said that she is working primarily through such organizations as Maryland Center for Veterans Education & Training, the House of Ruth and other organizations that provide shelter and aid to the homeless and others in need.
Tabrizi's gesture has been picked up the national media, including Huffington Post and People magazine, who have reported that Tabrizi had decided to forgo his participation in Baltimore's annual restaurant week in order to have his homeless restaurant week during the same period.
However, Tabrizi's is not a currently a member of Visit Baltimore, the organization that coordinates the annual dining promotion, according to Christina Perry, a Visit Baltimore spokeswoman.
"The reaction has been great," Tabrizi said. "It's not for the publicity. It's all about goodness. Imagine, if people can do random acts of good and make the city better again, the way it was before the riots."