Helping Others

Midtown burger joint hands out free New Year’s meals

Martine Hyson, a Suzie Burger employee, shakes a sign at 29th and P streets that caught the attention of plenty of hungry people.
Martine Hyson, a Suzie Burger employee, shakes a sign at 29th and P streets that caught the attention of plenty of hungry people. brobertson@sacbee.com

They came to Suzie Burger on Thursday with hunger pangs and armfuls of blankets, as the popular midtown eatery launched its second annual charity drive to bring awareness to the needy.

Just as Suzie Burger did last year, when it collected 300 blankets, the restaurant opened on New Year’s Day with a very appealing offer: Donate a blanket and get a free burger, fries and soft drink.

Those who showed up without blankets? They ate for free, too.

“I think it’s a really good cause, considering there are a lot of homeless here,” said Suzie Burger busser Martine Hyson, who on this day drew on his street dancing skills as he shook and twirled the most eye-catching sign around: “Free cheeseburgers.”

Asked about the quality of these burgers, Hyson’s eyes widened. “Oh my gosh!” he said. “Everything is delicious, from the regular burgers to the Philly cheesesteak.”

The free food appealed to all kinds of folks. The giveaway started when the restaurant opened at 11 a.m., and at times the line extended into the parking lot. In less than an hour, Janet Green, an outreach development coordinator for Loaves & Fishes, the nonprofit devoted to helping the homeless, had collected dozens of blankets.

“This is our second annual blanket drive,” she said. “We’re trying to reach our goal of a thousand blankets by giving away a thousand burgers.”

The restaurant, one of several owned by brothers Matt and Fred Haines, opened seven years ago. Back then, it kicked things off by giving away a thousand burgers.

Last year, the company wanted to revive that giveaway for a charitable cause and contacted Loaves & Fishes about partnering. The effort was a success, even though it fell short of the 1,000-blanket goal.

Many of those who came Thursday brought blankets, which they put in a Loaves & Fishes van. Many others simply lined up for free food.

Scanning the parking lot and looking toward the line out the door, Matt Haines said, “Anyone can get a burger today.”

Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.

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