Blue Nile restaurant owner Yosef Haile is often seen with a smile, and recently he brought big smiles to a group of young Eritrean refugees due his unexpected generosity.
Jamaica Plain resident Lexi Klupchak is the clinical director for the Rediscovery House in Waltham. The home is for boys ages 16 to 21 with complex trauma histories, and most have little to no family, said Klupchak. The long term goal of the home is help get the guys to live independently in the community with meaningful vocations.
"Most of our guys are from Boston but we also currently have unaccompanied refugee minors from Eritrea which neighbors Ethiopia and shares the same food," said Klupchak to Jamaica Plain News.
Klupchak placed a small catering order for the group home's holiday party dinner for the youth, as well as some boys from Haiti.
"[Yosef] came up with an amazing order and was only going to charge me half of the cost. When I arrived today not only had he made MORE food than what we had discussed, he refused to let me pay him for any of it," wrote Klupchak on the Jamaica Plain Facebook page. "The food was incredible, the kids and staff really enjoyed it (so did I!!!) and I am so touched by his incredible, generous heart."
The bill came to $650.
"She wanted to pay," said Haile to Jamaica Plain News. "I told her, listen what you can do is have the kids sign a card and give it to me. And I gave her the food."
He said that hearing many of the boys were from Eritrea, which neighbors Ethiopia to the north, touched him personally.
This wasn't the first time that Haile had tried to gift food to the Rediscovery House. Previously, Klupchak had come in and just ordered injera, the traditional flatbread used in Ethiopian meals, when one of the home's boys was making lega tibs. Haile had planned on not charging for the injera, but he wasn't there when she came to get it, and restaurant staff charged her.
Haile said there was a quick outpour of support from the community after reading about his recent generosity on Facebook. People came in and remarked on his giving, and they ordered food.
The little burst of business has been good for Blue Nile, because like the majority of restaurants, the pandemic has not been kind to the restaurant. While Haile says the business will survive, he had to cut staff from eight to only three people. He used to be able to take a break and go home and wasn't working double digit hours daily, and was not always cooking. Now he is consistently working 16 hours and cooking.
But for Haile, knowing that he did a good deed was all that mattered when he did it.
"I did it without thinking," said Haile.