Kazi Mannan owns Sakina Halal Grill, located just blocks away from the White House. But he is more than just the restaurant’s owner. Before the pandemic hit, he helped his team by taking orders, serving food, cooking in the kitchen and greeting customers.
Some of those customers weren’t the type of clientele typical in the Downtown D.C. neighborhood. Business men and women would sit side by side with men and women experiencing homelessness.
This is how it is for every meal at the Sakina Halal Grill. That’s because Kazi made a promise: anyone who needs a meal, even if they can’t pay for it, is welcome.
“I prayed to God that if I ever have a restaurant, I will announce on the first day that I will bring in the homeless people,” said Kazi. “You can come in hundreds, I will never say no… you’re welcome to eat free with respect and dignity. We will treat you the same.”
But the days of breaking bread with strangers and welcoming groups of diners into Sakina Grill are a distant memory. Like many restaurants, the coronavirus pandemic has hit Sakina Grill, and Kazi, hard.