Toronto restaurateur David Brown was reading the newspaper when he spotted a story about a flower shop near his own restaurant. Flower shop owner Andy Sue, who is of Asian descent, was dealing with racism and harassment relating to the coronavirus.
Brown felt inclined to do something about it, so he immediately put up a Facebook post, offering a free burger to anyone who bought something from the flower shop over the upcoming weekend. Brown runs “Fearless Meat,” a popular burger place in Toronto’s Upper Beaches neighbourhood.
“What can I do to help this guy out?” he said. “Maybe it’s a Jewish value ingrained in me, I don’t know. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Brown even hired extra staff to prepare for the bombardment of customers.
“You know, I wasn’t sure how many people would come,” he said. “It was probably one of our busiest days in terms of the number of people that came through here (though) it was snowing and miserable out weather wise. It was just like a wave after wave of people,” he said.
Sue said he appreciated Brown’s actions: “We were completely overwhelmed by the support from our community and abroad. People came from more than hour away outside of the city, just to come into the store and show their support, and their stance on racism.”
Brown gave away between 700 to 800 burgers, “I thought maybe (we’d give out) around 50!”
As for Sue, he sold everything he had. “David’s original goal was to get us sold out and we were sold out right to the walls.”
“I can honestly say I found out about (what Brown was doing) the same way everyone else did online. And I was immediately blown away by what he did. It was truly amazing. Like, nowhere did I think this was going to happen to me.”
The next morning, CBC reached out to Brown and he was on national news later that night. Global and CTV followed the next day.
“I saw that Andy had seen this cuz he put one of those ‘like’ symbols beside what I had posted,” Brown said. “And I knew that he had seen it, but I don’t think he was aware what was happening with it.”
Last time Brown checked, his Facebook post has reached over 193,000 people.
The 66-year-old butcher is no stranger to giving away free food. Veterans and their spouses can walk into Fearless Meat anytime for free ice cream and coffee. Brown also gave out free burgers throughout the whole week of Remembrance Day.
Brown grew up in Ripley near Kincardine, Ont., as a member of the only Jewish family in the small community. Brown is also a landlord and developer who has worked with organizations such as Fred Victor dealing with affordable housing.