A Korean restaurant in Salem, Oregon shuts down its doors every Monday after lunch, missing the lucrative dinner rush to serve up to 200 meals for the homeless.
Restaurant owner Hillary Park shutters her restaurant, Happy BiBim Bap House on Mondays at 2:30 p.m., but her day is far from over, the Statesman Journal reported.
Park, a born-again Christian, started the tradition in 2015, five years after she and her family moved to Salem and opened up the restaurant. She grew up in South Korea and moved to New York in 1985, after marrying her husband.
Once Park arrived in Salem, she started participating in missions at the Korean Church of Salem and decided to start serving dinner under the Marion Street Bridge every Monday.
Word of the hot, free meals soon spread. Between 100 and 200 Salem residents attend weekly, and church members attend to help serve.
Park serves both Korean and American fare, and she and her husband take on the bulk of cooking and preparing the yellow curry, corn dogs, rice and yakisoba noodles. In the summer, they make fried rice instead of noodles.
“Some people like it, some people don’t,” Park says of the Korean food. “I don’t want to cause any trouble.”
She even inscribes Bible verses on Styrofoam to-go containers.
“Whenever I have a moment, I come and write these,” she said.
David Jeon, pastor of the Korean Church of Salem, attends the dinner whenever he can, he said.
“This is just one of the ways of sharing God’s love,” he said.
Park mostly pays for all of the meals herself through earnings from the restaurant, but a donation box has been placed in the popular restaurant to help give back to the community even more. The donations will be used for Christmas gifts for Park’s church mission.
Wesley Woodward, a former New Orleans resident who lives in low-income housing in Salem, said the church volunteers are “just here to serve.”
“These people don’t ask where you’re from, what your income is,” Woodward said, adding that he loves the restaurant’s noodles. “It reminds me of me making a big batch of beans in New Orleans. People would line up at my doorstep from the projects next door.”
Jerry Barza, who picks up trash under the bridge as a member of Salem’s Baptist church for the homeless, the Church Without Walls, said God brought him back to Salem after he had a heart attack in 2008.
“God’s kept me busy,” Barza said. “Now, I come down and I make myself available to help.”
Parks said that she works to bring the community together through “God’s grace.”
“I do good by God’s grace, not my own strength,” she said “Just God’s grace and God’s glory.”
(H/T: The Statesman Journal)