A DC Steak-Frites Restaurant Is Bringing Free Meals to Elderly Who Are Quarantined

Medium Rare already delivered nearly 30 steaks last night with more to come

Medium Rare's steak and fries. Photography by Scott Suchman
Coronavirus 2020

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Between the empty grocery store shelves, scary headlines, and mass closures, it’s hard not to feel like the world is ending. Which is why Medium Rare owner Mark Bucher wanted to do something to make people’s lives a little easier.

So yesterday, he posted a message on Twitter: If anyone over the age of 70 needed a meal, his restaurant would make sure they got one.

“Our people are there and they want to work and we’ve got the food, so for those that can’t get to us, let’s do something about it,” Bucher says. He points out that a lot of elderly people might not be tech savvy enough to use delivery apps on their phones. “Those folks that don’t have family near them or that might really be scared should get a comforting meal.”

The response was overwhelming: more than 4,500 have retweeted the post, and ride-share drivers and couriers reached out to volunteer to make (contactless) deliveries when they got off work.

“We’ve got a whole network of drivers now that gives us the ability to get to people and reduce our expenses a little bit while doing good,” Bucher says.

Last night, the restaurant delivered just under 30 meals. Tonight, they’ll do another 60 to 70. Dinner was the restaurant’s signature: a culotte steak (cooked medium) with fries, mixed salad, bread, and dessert.

Most of the meal requests have come from children of seniors and caregivers. Bucher says the first message he got was from a guy whose 74-year-old parents live in an assisted-living home in Springfield, Va. “They’re both quarantined, and they just got tired of eating institutional food,” Bucher says.

Medium Rare is hoping to continue the meal deliveries at least through the weekend and is looking for other partners to help. Bucher has already had people from all over the world volunteering to pick up the tab. But so far he’s turned them down. His businesses haven’t been hard hit at this point, as many other restaurants have.

“It’s something that we wanted to do and at the current level, it’s something that we could handle,” Bucher says. “Should it expand beyond our financial ability, we’ll reach out.”

This is not Medium Rare’s first public service. Every Thanksgiving for the past 10 years, the restaurant has offered to fry people’s turkeys for free. Beyond ensuring people don’t burn their houses down, the service also helps families staying in shelters who might not otherwise have a way to cook their birds.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.