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Cass Street Deli preparing hundreds of meals for service industry workers daily

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Posted at 11:27 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 23:27:31-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- Cass Street Deli has had to adapt to restrictions during the pandemic like many other restaurants across Tampa. But despite these changes the restaurant is preparing hundreds of meals a day to help those in need.

On Saturday, the deli announced its participation in The Restaurant Workers Relief Program. The program started in Chef Edward Lee's 610 Magnolia restaurant in Kentucky, but soon grew to cities across the country. Through The Lee Initiative and Maker's Mark, restaurants turned into relief kitchens.

"I think it’s important for people to realize that they’re not forgotten and and even before the pandemic good food equals good mood and we’re just trying to keep that cycle going you know," said Suzanne Crouch, the executive chef at Cass Street Deli.

Crouch said the prepare 250 to 300 to-go dinners each day. Service industry workers who have lost their jobs or significant hours can pick up the meal from 5-7 p.m. each day until at least May 11. The meals are served on a first-come, first-serve basis. In addition to dinner, people will also receive an essential supply.

"It’s a flood with no water or a hurricane with no wind so we’re really trying to figure out how is it that we can utilize our skill set and turn our kitchen into an emergency or relief kitchen to help other people," said the restaurant's president, Roberto Torres.

Torres estimates they've given out around 1,000 meals so far.

"They’re getting a really good dinner," said Crouch.

It's one they've designed for the program. Crouch said this week it includes lemon roasted herb chicken with Maker's Mark sweet potato mash and braised cabbage. Next week, she's serving a pot roast style dinner with mashed potatoes and cornbread.

The restaurant is still open for regular business for curbside pick up or delivery within a certain distance. In addition, the restaurant is accepting donations that provide meals to first responders and front line workers.