MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At Divieto Ristorante in Doral, preparation for the lunch rush looks a lot different than it used to.

Unable to feed people inside, they’re taking the meals on the road, delivering them to the parking lots of South Florida hospitals.

Their goal is to help those who are on the front lines of battling coronavirus.

“We partnered with a group when we saw the crisis happening with COVID-19 in New York called ‘Feed the Frontlines NYC.’ And we thought: we have the capability, and the team, and the heart to do this here in Miami,” says Joan Saenz, who works in Operations for Divieto.

“The restaurant doesn’t profit off of it,” she continues. “The money donated to this cause— Feed the Frontlines Miami— goes directly to the purchase of the food, the preparing of the food, the delivery, and then it’s no charge to the hospitals.”

They began last week, and already the demand has been pouring in. Since then, they served about 500 meals and anticipate to reach 1,000 by the end of the week.

Saenz says they are serving more than a meal. They’re providing a little relief for doctors and nurses.

”They’re working 14 hours a day. They don’t have a break. I spoke to a doctor friend of mine who received a meal, and he said it was a really great morale booster, and it kind of breaks up their day a little too.”

Not only has it benefited those in the healthcare industry, it has helped their own employees.

“We’ve been able to bring back lots of our staff,” Saenz explains. After having to lay some employees off, with this new venture, they were able to bring several of them back.

“We have about 20 to 30 people in the restaurants right now, preparing the meals and packaging them and delivering them to the hospitals every day.”

They still make a profit from takeout and delivery services at their Doral and Fort Myers locations.

By participating in Feed the Frontlines Miami, it has given them a cause to rally behind, keeping their staff driven, and giving back in the way they know best.

”Initiatives like this allow us to feel like we are being productive and we are helping out during such a horrible crisis,” says Saenz.

So far, she says Divieto has received $13,000 in donations. They have a big goal of $350,000. All of that will go to the preparation and delivery of meals for hospitals. To donate or learn more, go to www.feedthefrontlinesmia.org

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Karli Barnett

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