During WorkWell’s pilot phase, participants enjoyed free lunches provided by several community-oriented restaurants: Aunt Chubby’s, the Big Easy, and 1911 Smoke House BBQ. A little background on these good neighbors:

Aunt Chubby’s Luncheonette in Hopewell provides wholesome meals to neighbors in need through the Chubby’s Project, a nonprofit program. Lyn Farrugia runs the restaurant with her sister, Michelle Hamilton. During the pandemic the Chubby’s Project delivered over 5,000 meals to local folks—“nutritious, delicious, and made with love!” its website declares. Aunt Chubby’s offers luncheonette fare with a flare, including a tahini-topped quinoa bowl and croissant bread pudding with berries. The decades-old establishment is a neighborhood hub—in the words of one patron, “full of friendly faces. You feel welcome here and the food is spectacular.” For more, go to thechubbysproject.org.

The Big Easy of Trenton has been run by Olugbala Sababu for over thirty years. Its menu draws from diverse traditions, including Cajun, Caribbean, Creole, and Southern cuisine. During the pandemic Sababu morphed from a restaurant to a takeout business. The lifelong Trentonian also began providing food to local folks in need. He collected sponsors who spent $29.99 to feed a family of four, then covered the difference out of his own pocket. “It’s not what you gather, it’s what you scatter,” Sababu says. With the restaurant now reopened he is still giving back, through initiatives such as senior citizen discounts and meal donations to WorkWell. For more, go to bigeasytrenton.com.

1911 Smoke House BBQ owner Maurice Hallett also understands the importance of community. A man who likes to bring people together with comfort food, he offers a menu specializing in smoked meats and locally sourced ingredients to local workers and neighbors in downtown Trenton. When the pandemic hit, Maurice stayed afloat thanks to the Trenton Small Business Emergency Loan Fund Program. He switched to takeout meals and managed to keep all his employees. Hallett’s establishment has since reopened, once again a neighborhood gathering place and the fulfillment of his lifelong dream: owning a bar, serving terrific barbeque, and giving back to those in need. For more, go to 1911bbq.com.