immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1996, he says he had less than $5 in his pocket. So when he opened his restaurant,
Sakina Halal Grill
in Washington, D.C., in 2013, he remembered what it was like to not have money for food and he decided to feed homeless and hungry people in need for free.
The restaurant is just blocks from the White House and looks like many other high-end eateries, but among the diners there for the all-you-can-eat buffet, homeless people are there experiencing the same meals as paying customers. If someone says they need a free meal, he gives it to them, no questions asked. Mannan estimates he gave away 16,000 meals in 2018 alone.
So how does he keep his doors open and his business running successfully if he’s serving up meals for free? With the support of his paying customers. “I don’t want any donation,” Mannan explains, “but if you’re coming in to eat, that’s your support of helping a community restaurant that’s offering kindness and love.”