Memphis Hotel Developer sends a quarantined community a BBQ Care Package, 'From Memphis with Love'
This article appeared in the March 28, 2020 Commercial Appeal.
Written by: Jennifer Chandler
One Memphis company has found a way to help a hometown business while also helping a client in another state. DreamCatcher Hotels, the Memphis-based hotel developer behind the Guest House at Graceland hotel concept, has sent a large, delicious care package to a customer in Cherokee, North Carolina, as a way to support their community during their COVID-19 quarantine. The care package is a four-way win. A Memphis restaurant receives much needed business
Memphis restaurant Charlie Vergos Rendezvous partnered with DreamCatcher to supply the 1,500 meals that will be transported to the Cherokee community. This huge to-go order will make a significance difference for The Rendezvous.
“We had to lay-off most of our staff,” said Rendezvous owner John Vergos. “This purchase will allow us to pay for their healthcare through at least the end of May.”
Vergos said this care package is one of the largest take-out orders the restaurant has ever received -- at a time that is crucial for Memphis’ local restaurant employees. “I am so happy that Greg Hnedak and DreamCatcher Hotels thought of the Rendezvous to help them fulfill this care package of 1,500 meals for those in need residing on the Cherokee Reservation,” said Vergos. “We want them to know that their meals have been made by a Memphis team who is grateful to have this sizable order to prepare during this trying time for the restaurant industry. It is being sent to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians from Memphis, with love.” A community on lockdown will receive a delicious meal
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, with whom DreamCatcher is building a new convention center hotel on the Cherokee’s Qualla Boundary reservation in North Carolina, is under self-imposed quarantine and has deployed its own police department to control access to its roads and community. The tribe has 9,600 people living on the Qualla Boundary, many of whom are part of the at-risk older population.
"As principal chief, I am extremely grateful to both DreamCatcher Hotels and The Rendezvous restaurant for partnering with our school system to provide meals to one of the most vulnerable segments of our community. This action demonstrates the highest level of caring and compassion by members of the business community and I am both humbled and inspired," said Richard Sneed, principal chief of The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Once on the reservation, the delivery driver will be assisted by DreamCatcher Hotels Vice President Zeke Cooper, who lives in the area and is a lifelong member of the community. Tribal officials will handle distribution of the meals, which augments their existing efforts to provide meals to their confined families.
The meal packages, prepared in the Rendezvous’ USDA-inspected kitchen under strict sanitary guidelines, contain the Rendezvous’ barbecue pulled pork plus all the fixings: beans, slaw, sauce and Rendezvous popcorn. Two displaced Memphis workers have a paycheck
A gesture of kindness through food
DreamCatcher Hotels founder Greg Hnedak is grateful for the opportunity to support one of his development customers when they need it most while at the same time helping people in his own hometown. “Our goal is to provide some much-needed comfort to people in North Carolina who mean a lot to us,” said Hnedak. “We know the families on the Cherokee reservation are growing weary of coping with these challenging times, as are local restaurant employees. We hope to give both of them a boost of kindness and connection through the meals we’ve purchased and are donating.” DreamCatcher has 2,000 rooms developed or in development across the United States. In addition to the Guesthouse at Graceland and the Cherokee, North Carolina property, locations include communities just outside Seattle, Phoenix, and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Hnedak hopes his actions inspire others who are in a position to help. “I hope others also see the opportunity to share some of their success,” he said.
Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining Reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.