Yesterday, in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Kate Brown has announced new social distancing restrictions related to the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on dine-in service at Portland restaurants and bars. For countless Portland restaurant workers, that has resulted in layoffs, furloughs, and cut hours, which has impacted their ability to feed themselves.
Observing the effect of the pandemic and the resulting mandates to halt its spread on the local economy, Justin Hintze, the owner of the popular Jojo food truck in Southeast Portland, is giving away food to restaurant workers and other Portlanders.
Two days ago, following the closure of K-12 schools in Oregon, Hintze started giving away meals for children. But watching his colleagues and friends try to stay afloat as business plummets — “it’s been a bloodbath,” he says — inspired him to extend the offer to food industry workers starting yesterday.
Hintze began asking for donations to help fund the project; since posting his Venmo handle yesterday, he’s raised $4,400. Because of the excess of donations and the wide scope of the Oregon outbreak, Hintze decided to let everyone eat for free. “I raised so much money, there was no way that we could just spend it all on service workers,” he said. “So I thought, ‘We might as well give it to everybody.’”
From noon to 6 p.m. today, anyone can eat for free at Jojo, no questions asked, with very specific social distancing protocols:
“You must make your order at the truck — no phone orders. Customers will stand back about six feet from the window to order. Please do not make a line! When your food is ready, we will call your name, put out your food, and close our window.”
The menu includes a quarter-pound cheeseburger, a coleslaw-topped fried chicken sandwich, chicken nuggets, jojos, and fried Brussels sprouts. Hintze and his sole employee will serve food as long as possible, and plan to continue to give away food for free as long as they can. Those who want to donate to the efforts can venmo Hintze at @justin-hintze.
• Jojo [Official]
• Jojo [Instagram]
• Previous Jojo coverage [EPDX]
• How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Portland Restaurant World [EPDX]