Homeless invited to dine at new Toronto restaurant before opening

The barbecue joint aims to make community dinners a regular occurrence

The holiday cheer at Meat and Pie Co. didn’t stop when the new year rolled around.

Ehab Dahdouli, owner of the unopened Meat and Pie Co., reached out to Dixon Hall before the holidays to see if they could coordinate a festive dinner for their clients.

Dixon Hall is one of Toronto’s leading housing services for homeless women and men in Toronto, providing all different levels of housing support.

As a celebration of the new year and a pre-grand opening for the restaurant, chef Sameer Vahidy put out a complimentary spread for 75 guests.

“Ehab had reached out to me about wanting to invite some of the clients from the housing services department to come in and enjoy a complimentary meal before the public opening,” said Kali Madej, communications manager at Dixon Hall.

“He had mentioned to me that the Meat and Pie concept is all about bringing a quality meat experience outside a traditional steakhouse, as well as making quality meats more accessible to different groups in Toronto. So I guess as part of that, they thought it was really important to do some community outreach and find an organization where they can work with precariously housed or low-income community members and they found us, which is fantastic,” said Madej.

The Dixon Hall clients were served an assortment of barbecue favourites like 35 oz Tomahawk steaks, tenderloin, one of three styles of mac and cheese and tandoori smoked chicken.

 

Dixon Hall volunteers
Dixon Hall volunteers

When speaking with chef Sameer Vahidy he said the feedback from the event was nothing but positive. “We had even the employees of the agency saying that this was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have such meals for themselves and for clients of theirs.”

The meal was then finished with an assortment of pies that were all prepared in-house.

Before they open to the public in February, Vahidy and Dahdouli wanted to do something that felt more comfortable. “We wanted to have an inclusive gathering space — not just for people with certain income brackets,” said Dahdouli.

Vahidy and Dahdouli hope this will be the first of many community outreach events. “We want to continue with partnerships in this place and continue to bring clients into the restaurant, or begin serving clients at different locations,” said Dahdouli.

When asked about the importance of having this dinner prior to the opening, both owners concurred, “honestly it’s just something we were more comfortable with, we thought that if we did it like this that we’re prioritizing them first before everyone else so we just felt that it was important for us to do that”.

Meat and Pie Co. is located at 212 King St. W. and is set to open in early February.