When people talk about work, they often position it as a job, profession or occupation. But for business owners like Joe and Megan Romano, what they do isn’t just a job—it’s something more meaningful than that. For them, it’s a passion.
Joe and Megan have been at the heart of the food and restaurant industry for their entire professional career. Today, they own and manage four restaurants in the Bozeman, Montana area, including Urban Kitchen, Salted Caramel Café and Nina’s Tacos & Tequila.
“There’s a need within [the community] to make people happy and make people feel comfortable,” Joe said. “And I think food is one of those things where it’s very community-driven…people come together for meals.”
Then COVID-19 happened. Nearly overnight, business owners like Joe and Megan had to figure out a way to keep people safe, stay relevant in the community and adapt their operations to keep their business afloat. They managed to keep their doors open for takeout and delivery orders and maintain 95% of their menu as usual.
But it’s what they decided to do next that highlighted their passion for making people happy and making people feel comfortable.
Almost immediately after shelter-in-place orders were introduced, many business owners were forced to lay off or furlough their staff, many of which were restaurant industry professionals. Joe and Megan couldn’t just stand by and watch; they were determined to help provide relief for people who needed it. And that’s how their Food for Families program came to life.
For the first two Saturdays of the program, Food for Families focused on providing a free meal to any restaurant industry worker who was out of work due to the pandemic. As people in the community started to take notice of their act of selflessness and generosity, other local businesses contacted Joe and Megan looking for ways to help.
By partnering with neighboring businesses such as HB Partners, their once-a-week operation was able to start serving free meals to people seven days a week. So far, on average, they’ve been serving 500 meals per day (roughly 3,500 meals every week!)—all while maintaining their current takeout and delivery services.
Thanks to Food for Families, anyone in the community who needs help can simply reach out and receive. For some locals, the free meal was the only one they were able to have all day.
The program has had an enormous impact on the community, both in terms of physical well-being and emotional stability. It proves that, ultimately, Joe and Megan were right: food can create happiness, comfort and connection—powerfully important at a time like now.
Although we know Joe, Megan and their local partners aren’t looking for kudos—they're working only from the kindness of their hearts and their compassion for their community—at NCR, we’re proud to celebrate them as a customer and share their story.