Moncton restaurant serves free meals to homeless every afternoon

Elian Elias serves free meals to homeless people in downtown Moncton from his Main Street restaurant every afternoon.

Syrian immigrant Elian Elias says feeding people is a way to give back to the community that he loves

Elian Elias, who owns Mama's Restaurant, serves free meals to homeless people at the downtown restaurant every day from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)

There is an unusual handwritten sign on the front door of Mama's Restaurant in downtown Moncton.

It is posted between the street number and the hours of operation, and it reads, "Free meal for homeless every day from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m."

Restaurant owner Elian Elias has been running the Main Street restaurant for nearly three years and lives above the shop. He said he sees a lot of people on the street who are homeless.

"They're cold," he said. "Some of them they ask me if they could sit for an hour or so to warm up, and I seen some of them just sitting on the street in the cold right on the ground asking for support."

Elias said he sees homeless people on Main Street in Moncton every day and he began serving meals as a way to help them get a warm meal and a break from the cold. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)

'I call it small help from big heart'

Elias immigrated to Canada from Syria eight years ago when he was just 20 years old. His parents and his siblings also live in Moncton.

It makes me feel really, really good because I serve them.- Elian  Elias, owner Mama's Restaurant

Since arriving, he has opened three businesses. Elias started serving meals to people in need because he wanted to give back to the friendly city he now calls home.

"I call it small help from big heart … it's a small payback for the community for their support. I got a lot of support from the community so I want to pay back for the community."

Every day Elias feeds between 10 and 15 people in his small restaurant.

"It makes me feel really, really bad and sad as well, and I wish I could help them more or everybody could give them a little hand," he said. "Some of them, they come even early or after 4 o'clock. I don't mind to serve them as well. I always serve them. I don't let anybody walk out hungry."

Community grateful

Elias said as soon as people arrive he starts cooking for them.

"They don't have to say anything. They walk in and I know them all now."

He often serves hot items from his menu that are quick to prepare such as pizza, poutine or donairs.

"They thank me a lot, even when they arrive, before they leave … it makes me feel really, really good because I serve them."

Elias said feeding homeless people every day is his way of giving back to the community that has supported his businesses since he immigrated to Canada from Syria eight years ago. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)

Elias said people have noticed the sign on his door, and many have taken the time to thank him for what he is doing and to share it on social media.

"I got a lot of emails even from outside the province. They're thanking me and they're happy to have me here in Canada. It's really good reaction."
Restaurant owner Elian Elias says it feels good to help. 5:56