PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for many, including those in the restaurant business. But it has also been a pivotal moment of pride and generosity in Philadelphia.
There's now a special t-shirt for sale that celebrates that sense of community, while also supporting it.
The shirt simply says "We Are Philly." It's an initiative between two childhood friends who wanted to bring us together, while at the same time giving us all a simple way to support, and feed, our neighbors who need us most.
"It was a devastation and it was immediate," said local restaurateur Rob Wasserman. "Philadelphia's right arm was caught off in March."
Three months later, Philadelphia's restaurant industry is desperately fighting to hang on.
Wasserman owns a handful of Philly hot spots, like Rouge on Rittenhouse Square and Twenty Manning Grill.
"Listen, we're all hurting and we're all in the same boat," Wasserman says.
He's also witnessed a camaraderie so strong it inspired the shirt with these three powerful words.
"You're a piece of that thread that makes Philadelphia, Philadelphia. And I'm proud of that," he said.
Each shirt sold sends an essential box from Giordano Garden Groceries to a neighbor in need.
"There's an opportunity," Wasserman said. "You get to wear a really prideful shirt and you get to help a fellow citizen."
When dining rooms shut down, the impact trickled straight down to Giordano's.
"Our our lifeline is the restaurant industry," says Marcello Giordano. "That is our main supply business."
Within two days of the shutdowns, they started making and selling essential boxes full of produce, meat and vegetables, to sell to local customers.
Turns out, this is a throwback to their early days, dating back to the Great Depression.
"When I was a kid and working for my family in the Italian market, we always delivered to people's homes, especially the elderly and shut-ins."
The boxes have been tremendously popular with customers. They've sold over 40,000 and counting.
Now, with the sales of the shirts, those fresh food boxes will also feed the city's hungry.
The shirts have been spotted on some of Philly's most notable culinary names.
The fact that they come in our sports colors is no coincidence.
"We're a sports town. We're all tied together and here's a way to wear your colors and be prideful of who we are," says Wasserman.
In just a few weeks they've sold more than 4,000 shirts, and with that, just as many essential boxes have been donated to the city's food warehouse to be distributed to the hungry.
We Are Philly: Shirts promote pride, help feed those in need
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