Amidst COVID-19 Crisis, Alumnus’ Restaurant Steps Up to Feed KC Health Care Providers

Monday, April 6, 2020
Health care workers accepting sponsored meals

For Kansas City area restaurants (make that restaurants across the U.S.), physical distancing and other precautions taken to stem the spread of COVID-19 has made business a lot harder.

That’s a cause of stress for Dan Walsh, ’96, ’01 MBA, owner of Spokes Café, but it’s also been an opportunity to rally a community behind the workers leading the fight against the virus every day.

Spokes Café is a Kansas City-based coffee shop, café, bicycle shop and catering service. Walsh said the business already serves lunches frequently to area health care providers, but in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak in Kansas City, a regular customer had asked to pay for a breakfast for the Pandemic Response Team at Truman Medical Center. A post on social media about that delivery inspired others to make similar requests.

That’s when Walsh’s business acumen — and Jesuit education — kicked in, and he put two and two together.

“In times of trouble my 11 years of Jesuit education taught me to ask, ‘How can I help? How can I be of service?’” he said. “The best way to deal with the hardship you are experiencing is by helping others.”

Spokes Café quickly set up a portal on its website where customers could sponsor meals for health care workers across the city that Spokes staff would prepare and deliver. It didn’t take long for the option to become a popular one, with both individuals and organizations pitching in, with more than 1,300 meals delivered to date.

“We are really just gearing up, because we are hearing from the health professionals their expectation that the second half of April will be the worst and when they really won’t be able to leave the hospital,” he said.

With such a stressful time looming for many of those workers, and with many hospitals’ food service shut down or limited, Walsh said being able to offer a freshly made meal is a way to show appreciation for their hard work and sacrifices.

“We can’t intubate anyone or swab a Covid19 test but we, along with some many others sitting at home, would like to do everything we can to make sure those who can are well fed and at their best,” he said. “If that means a killer club sandwich and a freshy baked chocolate chip cookie during a 10-minute break over a 12 hours shift, it seems like the least we can do.”