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People Are So Inspired By This Montreal Restaurant Giving Away Free Meals

"We thought this is a small little thing we can contribute to the community."

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People are blown away by this Canadian restaurant's generosity for giving away free meals to anyone who can't pay.

Montreal's Marché Ferdous, which serves shawarma and other Middle Eastern foods, has been giving food away to homeless and poor people in the neighbourhood for months. But it came to wide attention this week after a viral post on Facebook.

"People with no money welcome to eat free," reads a bilingual sign on the door.

Sita Zarrabian / Facebook / Via

Sean Jalbert, who wrote about the free meals on Facebook, said he heard about the restaurant's generosity and wanted to see it for himself.

"Curious enough I walked in and pretend I had no money and asked for food. She didn't ask anything, but said we welcome you and pick whatever you like, including anything I wanted to drink," Jalbert wrote.

"Absolutely incredible," he said. "Share the fuck out of this. Maybe someone you know may need help to eat tonight."

"We are happy for our small little contribution," co-owner Yahya Hashemi told BuzzFeed News.

Global Montreal / Via

Hashemi's restaurant is located a couple of doors down from a church where many homeless people gather. He said he started telling panhandlers asking for change that they could eat at Marché Ferdous, even if they couldn't pay fully.

"I tell them OK, you go next door and you give them these $2, and tell them I sent you," he said. "They gonna give you the food."

"People spread the word by themselves to the other poor people in the community, and they start to show up," he said.

Three months ago, Marché Ferdous made it official policy to give free meals to anyone who needed it, no questions asked.

The restaurant's generosity has gotten a huge response online, with many people thanking them for the "beautiful initiative" to help feed the hungry.

"It is unbelievable, the reaction for a small little thing," he said.

Hashemi, who is originally from Iran, said that after 31 years in Canada this was a way to give back.

"Canada give us a lot," he said. "We thought this is a small little thing we can contribute to the community."

Hashemi said that for him and his co-owner Ala Amiry, originally from Iraq, it was also a reflection of their Muslim faith to take care of the needy.

Facebook: sita.zarrabian

"This is part of our faith, part of our belief," he said. "This is what we do back home."

Although not many more people are taking advantage of the free meals, Hashemi said, he is seeing a wave of new paying customers who want to support his business now.

"This is encouraging us even more," he said.

Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at

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