LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – When business slowed at the start of 2011, Don Rafa's restaurant owner David McKendree didn't want to wait for the economy to turn around before getting his customers back. He decided to take his food to them, free of charge.
"We could sit here and wait for the customers or that we could do something to let them know we're here. Do something for them," said McKendree.
Most people like to be fed, and using that simple idea to guide him, McKendree got in gear to feed Houston County.
"You gotta give. You can't always take-take," said McKendree.
With his right-hand woman, Carey Kramer on-board, they got to work on the logistics of making it happen.
"Because we're a small community it should affect everyone in town because we're doing the churches, the businesses the schools and the non-profit organizations," said Kramer.
Getting the word out about a free meal wasn't as easy as you would think.
"When we first started I made phone calls and people couldn't believe we were giving free food - why would you give free food?" said Kramer.
It didn't take long for the word to spread. Now, getting everybody scheduled is the hard part. In fact, four churches were fed Sunday. The congregation of Crockett Church of God was one of them.
The church's new pastor believed the meal would be a great chance to get to know his church family.
"I think it's a neat thing. I think its something the lord will bless you for what you've done," said Pastor Troy Sullivan.
McKendree hopes the community takes their lead.
"It just goes around. maybe you pass on that favor and they'll pass it on to the next person," said McKendree.
So far it seems to be working. Don Rafa's servers say business is picking back up.
"The staff here in the dining room will come and tell me they had people come in and really thank us for the food we provided to their church or their business," said Kramer.
The Don Rafa's catering team says they've already fed over 1,600 county residents, and plan to feed about 3,500 more before their done.