SAN DIEGO — A North Park restaurant recently received a whopping $30,000 donation to not only help themselves, but also to feed the hungry in San Diego.
The money came from businessman and TV personality Marcus Lemonis with the help of a basketball legend and San Diego native Bill Walton. Since last month, Jason Hotchkiss, chef and owner of Encontro, has been donating up to 200 meals a day to needy residents, thanks to the surprise donation.
Walton and his wife, Lori, became friends with Hotchkiss over the years and nominated Encontro for Lemonis’ Plating Change program, which will donate a million dollars to support local restaurants and those who are food insecure.
“That’s how we connected so well with Bill and Lori — they have so much love (and) they’re amazing people as well,” Hotchkiss said.
Walton and Lemonis, the chairman and CEO of Camping World and star of the CNBC show “The Profit,” delivered the news of the donation to Hotchkiss on a Zoom call.
“Small businesses are the backbone of this economy in America,” Lemonis said.
Hotchkiss has partnered with the Salvation Army, YMCA and Feeding San Diego to get meals out to hundreds of San Diegans.
“Everybody that comes to pick up the meals is super excited,” he said. “There’s so many hungry people out there and they can’t wait to bring the meals to the people, so it’s really wonderful.”
Although the funds help his restaurant during a trying year, Hotchkiss made giving back the focus.
“Growing up, I was super poor and didn’t have food, so I totally know what these people are going through,” he said. “It gives us — everybody on the team — a lot of joy for doing this.”
The restaurant now is down to its last few hundred meals from the donation, but Hotchkiss said they would like to keep paying it forward.
Anyone who would like to donate can contact him at Jason@encontronorthpark.com.