Floriana owner Jamie Branda was scrolling through a D.C. subreddit page from his personal Reddit account when he happened upon a post that made him pause.
An unidentified user explained they had only $43 to spend until Nov. 1 and don’t have a kitchen. The user wrote: “What are some of the cheapest ways to get a meal in DC?”
Branda replied that he owned a restaurant in D.C. and urged the person to send him a message because “we will feed you. I’ve been in your exact situation before, I know how it feels.”
— MJ (@marissajoy01) October 28, 2021
The feel-good exchange has gained traction on social media, with many admiring Branda’s efforts and expressing a desire to support his restaurant. Branda replied from his personal account but thinks someone went through his post history and realized he owned Floriana.
While he hasn’t yet heard from the person who wrote the post, he hopes he’s able to help.
“I feel for the person who’s in that position,” Branda told WTOP. “I thought, ‘When I was in this position, what would have been helpful to me?’ It costs you nothing to be kind, or in this case costs me very little.”
After graduating from law school but having not yet passed the bar exam, Branda said he was hired as a host at James Hoban’s, also in Dupont Circle. He was paid minimum wage, and between pay periods and after paying rent, he had less than $15 to spend with about a week until he’d be paid again.
So, Branda said, he went to the Safeway on 17th Street in D.C. and bought black beans and ramen noodles. That’s what he ate for dinner every night for a week.
“I can’t imagine what it’s like for people that legitimately struggle,” Branda said. “I was just thinking how it would have made me feel if someone had said let’s get you a big hot meal and get you some groceries. The plan was not to get attention, which is why I didn’t put the name of the restaurant on the post.”
The restaurant, Branda said, has given food to people in the neighborhood and others who are homeless, but “certainly not [to someone] on Reddit.”
He said he was planning to ask if the person had a microwave “because there’s plenty of stuff we could give them that they can throw in the fridge to get them through the week,” Branda said. He was also planning to invite the person to the restaurant for a hot meal, and take them to Safeway for some dried food.
“And probably toss them a little bit of cash to make sure they were OK,” Branda said.
Branda said he has been receiving messages all day, mostly from friends kiddingly calling him soft. But if he gets a response from the person who posted on the subreddit, he’ll be prepared.
“I worry sometimes that when people want to help each other, it’s conditional,” Branda said. “If you’re going to help someone, just help someone.”