Restaurants & Bars
Oswego Family Restaurant Gives Free Meals To Residents
Owner Nick Dassis is feeding community members for free, giving back to those who stood by him “through thick and thin.”
The Oswego Family Restaurant offers a delectable array of hearty, pocket-friendly American dishes. (Photo Submitted by Nick Dassis)
OSWEGO, IL — Owner of the Oswego Family Restaurant, Nick Dassis, had made up his mind 25 years ago that “every employee that works for me will get a free plate of food.” As communities started suffering in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, he decided to extend this altruistic gesture to all Oswego residents.
Once businesses faced difficulties and the unemployment rate began to grow in Illinois, Dassis began offering free food every day of the week.
“I have always been very helpful and when the governor closed down businesses, many of my customers lost their livelihood. They have supported me for years and I thought this was a good opportunity to give back to those who have stuck by me through thick and thin,” he said.
Dassis and his staff work on the menu each day and different items are offered that residents can come pick up from the restaurant at absolutely no cost. The specials for each day are announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page. If people have a special request, they can let him know through this page as well, and he will prepare it.
While many eateries had to lay off staff in order to support their businesses, the Oswego Family Restaurant has retained 95 percent of its working staff, although the hours have changed.
“I have been lucky enough to have all my major payments such as mortgages etc. taken care of and so whatever money we are making now, it is entirely for my employees. I am not making any profit,” Dassis said. “I stayed open just for the purpose of ensuring my staff has an income.”
His landlord, the Masonic Lodge next door, decided to suspend his rent for a couple of months.
“I thought to myself, ‘You know what? If they were able to help me, I should also be able to help someone else,'” he said.
Despite several food options in the area, the Oswego Family restaurant has established itself as a popular destination for American food and according to Dassis, it is because they are “open-minded and diverse about our food.” He takes pride in his work and ensures that everything in the kitchen is created from scratch.
“Franchises are taking over the towns but smaller, family-owned establishments have so much to offer and I’d hate to see them go,” he said. “They’re hardworking people and should be supported. It’s hard for them to put themselves on the map, but once you find them, it’ll be the best food you’ve ever eaten.”
The restaurant is currently only offering curb-side pickup, and all members of the staff are taking extra precautions, wearing masks and staying 6-feet away from customers. Food can be picked up between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily.
Dassis said they have been feeding many families daily and if given an opportunity, he’d like to do more for a community that he respects.
“When things get back to the way they were, I would actually like to throw a big pig roast or a big barbecue for everyone,” he said. “Everybody should help a little as just a bit makes a huge difference. And if everybody just did a bit, that would be a better world. And more importantly, you would feel good about yourself as well.”
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