Comfort Food: Nightclub owner, family and friend cook meals for the homeless during pandemic

(WSVN) - When the coronavirus pandemic forced one business owner to close his doors, he decided to turn to his second passion — serving the community. The Nightteam’s Brandon Beyer has a look at how he’s also recruiting his family and friends to provide “Comfort Food.”

Nicholas Khodr: “We’re doing rice with pulled chicken and sautéed peppers and onions.”

This giant pot of rice and these massive pans of chicken are not a typical Sunday dinner for Nicholas Khodr and his family.

They won’t be eating any of it. Instead, they are giving it all away.

Nicholas Khodr, cooking meals for homeless: “We want to give. Our end goal is to give a million meals per year.”

Although Nicholas enjoys cooking, you typically won’t find him in his kitchen at home, rather, welcoming patrons at one of his nightclubs in Hollywood.

That is until the coronavirus pandemic forced him to shut them down.

Nicholas Khodr: “It’s been a struggle, but we’re getting through it.”

Being out of business for weeks on end left him without much going on until he got a call last month from his friend Jamil.

Jamil Hindi, Nicholas’ friend: “I pass Broward [Boulevard] every day, and there’s just so many homeless out there. I called Nick because he has experience in the restaurant industry, and I said, ‘Look, I have this idea.'”

Jamil and Nicholas cooked up an idea to feed 150 homeless people in downtown Fort Lauderdale every Sunday.

Jamil supplied the funding, and Nicholas supplied the equipment and cooking skills. Together, the two men asked their friends and family for help.

Jamil Hindi: “Nick said, ‘Hey, I have a friend that does shirts. We started to give shirts. I have connections in China where I can get face masks for cheap,’ so I said, ‘Let’s just keep it going.'”

The project has done more than provide hot meals to the homeless. It has also given Nicholas’ mother a new way to care for others after being furloughed from her job as a healthcare worker.

Stefanie Smith, Nicholas’ mother: “It takes my mind off things, and we start planning our menus on Wednesdays and kind of do everything ahead of time.”

It takes a lot of planning and hours of cooking.

Stefanie Smith: “Thirty-five pounds of rice and 28 pounds of chicken.”

Nicholas Khodr: “It’s a lot of fun, and we start around 12 to 1 o’clock and usually done around 6 p.m.”

When the food is ready, they pack it all up and head to downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Stranahan Park, where a group quickly gathers.

Nicholas Khodr: “The people really love it! They really look forward to it every Sunday.”

Food recipient: “Thank you, man. God bless you.”

Jamil says even after their businesses finally reopen, he and Nicholas plan to continue to feed the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, but they don’t want to stop there. They hope to create their own charity and expand their efforts to other communities across South Florida.

Jamil Hindi: “If we’re fortunate enough to do it, we have to do it, and that’s our responsibility.”

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