Philadelphia restaurant owners encourage customers to donate food instead of tips

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- We are Philly Proud of two restaurant owners who have encouraged their own customers to open their hearts to folks in need.

Sisters Pamela and Marti Lieberman of Gwynedd Valley, Montgomery County took a homemade recipe for macaroni and cheese that they started selling from a food truck to a small shop, appropriately named Mac Mart. The business is located just off of 18th and Chestnut streets in Center City.

Along with most restaurants, because of the pandemic, they had to greatly change the way they handled their business.

"We literally hopped into our car, we started doing suburb deliveries all of that and throughout the greater Philadelphia area," Pamela said. "That's kind of what helped us survive for the first five months because people loved it so much."

On their drives in and out of the city, they noticed a striking amount of people on the streets who were in need and saw it as an opportunity to help. Instead of tips, they asked their customers to donate food or any other items that they could spare.

"I just thought it would be a nice idea if we asked our customers instead of giving tips," she said. "Blankets, extra coats, extra winter jackets, or even just goods from the refrigerator that maybe they were going to throw out that week."

"My sister and I will drive around and leave it at churches or take it to hospitals or even leave it at my station, there's just so many people that need stuff right now," she said. "On the drive back to the city, we might have an entire trunk full of blankets and food."

They now collect donations the last week of every month and have already done over 20 pickups of items. As she explained, it is all about good karma, and putting out the good that you want to see in the world.

"I wish everybody could go home to a hot meal and a hot bed, but if we could give everybody a blanket and a big bowl of macaroni, that's my only realistic dream," she said.
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