With free hot roasted chickens, a New York deli gives hope to scores of families in need

Saratoga’s Broadway Deli owner Daniel Chessare shakes hands at the grand opening of his business in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 2018. | Sarah Storrer

NEW YORK — Since Daniel Chessare began offering free hot roasted chickens to his community earlier this month, the owner of Saratoga’s Broadway Deli in Saratoga learned something interesting about people who have found themselves in need amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Many, he said, “are slipping between the cracks.”

“A lot of these families are slipping between the cracks because they are not necessarily poor. They are not necessarily destitute. They’re not lining up for food stamps or whatever but they are not necessarily making enough money to support their families,” he said.

“A lot of the stories coming in are, one of the spouses is sick or disabled and it’s up to the other person to provide for the whole family. We’re getting a lot of people who are making ends meet but they don’t have that extra money to do something nice. So there is this sort of forgotten middle ground where you’re making too much money to get government programs but not enough money to be able to support yourself,” he explained. “They are not out on the street. They are just quietly suffering without anybody really noticing.”

While many businesses have shuttered under pandemic restrictions, Chessare’s business has been booming. In fact, it’s the best year he has had since he opened up two and half years ago.

So inspired by the support of the community that gave him his best year in business that has perhaps been the worst year for others, Chessare announced on his deli’s Facebook page on Nov. 15 that he would be giving away free hot roasted chickens until the end of the year.

“This year has been good to us. In fact, it has been our best year since opening. Record sales. But we understand that for many this was the worst year of their life. Lost their job, lost their income, and some of you even lost a family member. As the cold and darkness set in, hope can be a little hard to find. So we would like to help at least a little bit. The community has been generous to us so we would like to be generous back,” the deli declared. “We aren’t asking any questions. We’re not asking for any proof. You say you need a hot roast chicken to provide a nice holiday meal for your family, we got you covered. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa. Whatever the reason, up until the 31st you can count on us.”

Already, Chessare told The Christian Post, his deli has given away 100 hot roasted chickens and they plan to give to everyone who presents a need.

“We don’t have any cap on how much we’re giving away. We’ve already given away about 100 birds and we already have more orders coming in leading up to Christmas, so we are thinking by the end of December we expect to give away a couple hundred chickens,” he said.

Back in March as the coronavirus pandemic bore down on the country, hitting New York particularly hard, schools were shuttered temporarily, cutting off access to free or reduced price lunches normally offered by schools.

The Saratoga deli owner saw the need and stepped in as well.

“We’ve had a history of giving back to the community. We provided free meals to kids who were out of school when the schools first shut down back in March. We support other local community causes, we donate to charities and such,” Chessare said. “If you expect the community to support you, you’ve got to support the community as well so we like giving back.”

And the Saratoga deli owner believes that it’s that spirit of giving that’s partly responsible for his success.

“One of the reasons we were doing well was because our business model was built for takeout and delivery already but then what really got us notoriety was our school lunch program back in March. We found that the more we were willing to donate to the community, the more the community was willing to donate back,” he said.

For businesses that can afford it, he explained, they should find ways to invest or give back particularly with so many people in need.

And as the world wrestles with the raging pandemic, Chessare thinks the holidays should be used to come together even as people try to remain socially distant for health reasons.

“People want to draw lines in the sand, you’re this and that and there’s no way we’re ever going to get along. I think it’s kind of important, especially now, for the global community to come together to help each other instead of pointing fingers and blaming the other side for everything that’s going on,” he said.

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