As Hurricane Laura disrupted lives all across Louisiana, forcing many to be without power or water, a kindhearted businessman came to the rescue of thousands.
Rikesh Patel is the owner of 25 McDonald’s locations in Louisiana, and his Lake Charles restaurants were the hardest hit. But he decided to put that behind him and give back to his community in a big way.
He started by offering his workers places to stay in their homes were damaged and time-and-a-half pay. He called corporate the day after the hurricane hit and asked for a McRig. One made the trek from Kentucky and arrived the day after he requested it. “Pictures don’t do [the destruction] justice,” he said of the area. “It’s so much worse than what you’re seeing on social media.”
“We know that the rebuilding process will take a lot of time,” Patel added. “But we know that Lake Charles is going to come through this and that we’ll be stronger than ever.”
Today we proudly served over 1,500 free meals to our Lake Charles community. We’ll be back at it again tomorrow! The greatest brand in the world. @McDonalds #LakeCharlesStrong pic.twitter.com/i59xJ9xIHd
— Rikesh Patel (@RikeshAPatel) August 31, 2020
10,000 free meals
Using the McRig and the workers still in the area, he began serving meals composed of a cheeseburger, fries and a bottled water at no cost to the recipients. “Today we proudly served over 1,500 free meals to our Lake Charles community,” he tweeted Aug. 31. “We’ll be back at it again tomorrow! The greatest brand in the world.”
Sky Nielsen, one of the recipients, posted a photo of the free meal and the note that came with it on social media, and Patel shared it on Twitter. “As the people of Lake Charles and the surrounding areas recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Laura, your local McDonald’s Owner/Operator, in partnership with McDonald’s Corporation wish to contribute in a small way by providing lunch to those who are working so hard to rebuild their homes and businesses,” the note read.
Act of kindness
“The true character of our great city is on full display as we come together and help each other recover from the effect of this devastating storm. McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc believed we must give back to the community we do business in and we wish to honor his legacy at a time when our community needs it the most!”
Nielsen added, “Went to get food and drinks to cool everyone down and McDonald’s on Nelson Rd was giving away free lunch,” Nielsen wrote. “I didn’t think I could be brought to tears from a fast-food restaurant. Thank you.”
In the last 4 days we have provided over 10,000 free @McDonalds meals to our community. Ray Kroc believed we must give back to our communities that we do business in. Thank you to our amazing crew and managers for making this belief come alive. #HurricaneLaura #lakecharlesstrong pic.twitter.com/xj3mX9aecV
— Rikesh Patel (@RikeshAPatel) September 3, 2020
Patel and his crew served more than 10,000 of their free meals over the course of 6 days, “It was just really neat to see the whole family aspect,” Patel said, “of how we’ve always said we’re like a family and it just really came to life during such a tragedy.”