Truckee-Tahoe restaurateurs convert spaces into relief kitchen to feed locals
Special to the Sierra Sun
The Sierra Relief Kitchen continues to raise money to help feed people in need in North Lake Tahoe, while receiving nearly $24,000 of the $50,000 it’s attempting to generate to provide free meals.
Created by Rachel Graf and Danny McCabe, owners of two restaurants in the area, the couple quickly pivoted their businesses to serve the public.
“My husband and I both opened restaurants in the last two years … he opened The Station in Truckee in 2018 and I opened Tremigo, a Mexican place in the Village at Squaw Valley last winter,” Graf said. “It couldn’t have been worse timing.
“And when the pandemic came, we knew that going into April people would get low on funds and money would start to get tight. So we decided to utilize the kitchens that we had access to and turn it into a food delivery service.”
Graf launched the Sierra Relief Kitchen April 7 with the goal to serve around 40 meals by April 16, but that effort expanded to making and delivering 120 meals.
“The whole thing came together really fast, and we partnered with Elsa Corrigan from Mamasake because she is very involved with World Central Kitchen,” Graf said. “We have our employees, a few volunteers, and we partnered up with First Baptist Church who helps us with delivery and logistics.”
That same week, Sierra Relief Kitchen launched a GoFundMe page to help raise money for food costs and operating expenses and expanded the effort to its Facebook page. People in need of meals started reaching out to Graf personally and she began coordinating delivery on Thursdays and Saturdays to North Lake Tahoe residents.
The giving and receiving has been twofold as employees at Tremigo and The Station are able to stay active, and Graf and her husband are able to continue making the dishes they enjoy while their regular businesses are closed.
The couple is focused on making their food specialties for their Thursday and Saturday deliveries; for their inaugural April COVID-19 meals they served lasagna, chile verde, and chile Colorado dishes, as well as shepherd’s pie, vegetables, salads, and cookies.
The Sierra Relief Kitchen can serve single persons up to families of seven with free meals, and its first deliveries and generosity of local donors has helped the relief kitchen fulfill its goal of being there for the community.
Graf said the couple wants to utilize resources available to help the community until they can open their restaurants. They are also working on forming a nonprofit due to the number and amount of donations they’ve received.
“We feel fortunate to have a great team, crew, and employees between both restaurants who’ve been willing to step up and help, we couldn’t have done it without them,” Graf said. “We’re here to provide this service and we know now that if there’s another disaster like a wildfire we can respond quickly to those in need.”
“Between our deliveries on Thursdays and Saturdays and the Boys & Girls Club that has been actively providing meals to kids, we can provide a hot meal almost every day in North Lake Tahoe,” Graf concludes.
Those people in need who would like to be considered to receive a meal, contact Rachel Graf at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit http://www.gofundme.com/f/sierra-relief-kitchen for information on contributing to the Sierra Relief Kitchen effort
Kayla Anderson is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun based in South Lake Tahoe. Contact her at email@example.com.
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Truckee is offering a one-month extension for downtown businesses, allowing restaurants to continue to use outdoor patio spaces as a means to operate through the end of October, according to Assistant Town Manager Hilary Hobbs.