Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recession Dinners

Jeffry Ruhalter, owner of Jeffrey's Meat Market on Essex Street in lower Manhattan.

When my friend V called to tell me that she had arranged for me to have a free dinner at a great New York restaurant, I thought she was kidding.

Free steak?
Free dining experience at a beautiful restaurant?
Now? During these difficult economic times?

No, V said. It's not a joke. She told me that everything had already been set up. All I had to do was call an incredibly kind man named Jeffrey to confirm. Unfortunately, I had a conflict with the date. So V tried to see what she could do... After a little back and forth (between V and Jeffrey), she called to give me new date. All I had to do was give Jeffrey a call to get the details on where I needed to go...

Well, the conversation that transpired between me and Jeffrey made my heart feel lighter than it has in weeks (even as I worked up an appetite!), although initially it looked as though it might not happen.

It appears that the date V told me had been changed, and since the new date falls on a night when I'm taking a silkscreening class, it looked like my fantastic free dinner was a no-go... I was just about to thank Jeffrey for his kindness, when he said:

"Tell your friend V that I'm going to host another Recession Dinner, just for you and your daughter."

My jaw dropped. My jaded heart skipped a beat. Jeffrey is not only going to feed me, but he's taking my schedule into consideration.

I'm to call him back soon to talk over the details, he said, and not to worry, he'll be taking care of all the arrangements as well as the minimal cost of the dinner (the dinner is actually $10 per head, but Jeffrey had told V that I would be covered).

I'm still in (happy) tears!

It was only after I got off the phone that I thought to do a little research about these 'Recession Dinners'. Well, what I found has made me feel even more touched...

Jeffrey Ruhalter's family has "the oldest original family owned butcher shop in New York City since 1920."

His grandfather gave away food to hungry New Yorkers, and Jeffrey is continuing the family tradition. Not only is he giving meat away to his loyal customers, but he is hosting his Recession Dinners for 115 struggling couples (yes, you read it correctly: that's 230 steak dinners!!).

"I know what I'm doing is not a lot, but I'm thinking if I do this, maybe somebody else will do this," Ruhalter said in this inspiring Daily News article (yes, I actually found something in the Daily News inspiring!!). He continued, "these are really difficult times and people need a helping hand."

'Jeffrey's Recession Dinners' are being extended to people who can show a "letter of unemployment separation, unemployment payment history, foreclosure documents, Dear John letters..."

Two of these dinners have been arranged- one at the Essex Restaurant, the other at Thor Restaurant.

The fact that he is willing to set up a third dinner is amazing. Unexpected. Compassionate. His generosity moves me. I can't wait to hear about what he comes up with!

I look forward to speaking more with Jeffrey, to attending one of his fabulous dinners, and, most of all, to being able to return the favor by shopping at his meat market once I'm back on my feet again (for now, perhaps I could make Jeffrey one of my embroidered shirts to show my gratitude?).

Anevay is always hankering for meals we can't afford (I don't think she'd be thrilled to know I spent the last of my cash on a screenprinting class instead of something necessary... oh well... who needs toilet paper?). She'll be delighted to hear about the dinner 'date' (yes, mothers and daughters can go on dates together) we have planned!

Please look here for more information about Jeffrey's Meat Market, as well as details about his Recession Dinners.

Finally, I'll leave you with a little more background about Jeffrey Ruhalter, taken directly from his meat market's website. I'm starting to ADORE this man:

"A visit to Jeffrey's Meat Market is more than buying meat. Jeffrey's charismatic style and consummate knowledge of meat is enjoyed and relied upon by both his retail customers and his Restaurant Chefs alike.

Besides doubling as an Art Gallery, there are random 'Day of the Rose' celebrations that are celebrations of women, and of life. Jeffrey passes out dozens of roses and says, 'Every woman is beautiful and every woman gets a rose'."


  1. That's incredible. Without wanting ot get into bumper sticker speak, it does remind me of 'random acts of kindness...'

  2. Yes, it is incredible! I have no problem with THIS sort of bumper sticker speak!

  3. AMAZING. Enjoy your steak dinner!


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