Community Lunches brings free meals, company to Boothbay Harbor
Free community lunches are offered every Monday at 11:30 a.m. at Brady’s in Boothbay Harbor during the cold and lonely winter months.
BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine — The rooftop of Brady’s Restaurant in Boothbay Harbor is quiet in November, except for a few brown leaves blowing in the wind. Gone are the summer tourists who used to crowd the city center for a few months. Now, it’s easy to see how one could get lonely here along the coast during the winter isolation.
But Brady’s inner workings tell a different story. Traditionally closed on Mondays, the restaurant now hosts “community lunches” at 11:30 a.m. from November through spring, inviting people to eat for free and enjoy each other’s company.
“It could be anyone you want to see at a community lunch,” organizer Tansy Mitchell said. “Fishermen come if they are out of the water. Sometimes workers come, grab a bowl of soup and go back to work.”
Community lunches have only been happening at Brady for a couple of years, but Mitchell is no stranger to this type of work. She had been helping prepare community meals served at local churches for more than a decade, but that stopped during the pandemic. Her daughter, Jenny Plummer, owns Brady and decided she would provide a place for Mitchell to host.
“The first week of this year, we had 100 (guests), the most we’ve ever served,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell just turned 80, but she makes fish soup every week for community lunches. For her, this is normal.
“Life would be so boring if you didn’t do things,” Mitchell said.
“My mother is a force of nature,” Plummer said, noting that she hopes other communities in Maine will follow her example.
“We would love to see other cities pick up our model and be able to do the same things for other people,” Plummer said.
These community lunches are made possible by various sponsors each week, such as local businesses, churches and Rotary clubs. On Monday, Hallinan Construction, Inc. Sponsored the meal, despite the fact that it had lost much of its equipment less than 24 hours earlier in a fire on a nearby island.
“We were committed to this, and we wanted to be here,” Richard Hallinan said of why they kept coming to volunteer. “Everyone has been so supportive.”
“He won’t miss giving back to the community because he knows the community will take care of them,” Plummer said.
Married couple Dee and Howard Wright, married for 60 years, have been coming to these community lunches almost since their inception.
“You only meet the nicest people,” Dee said.
“He takes us out at least once a week,” Howard, 94, said.
Even people like Boothbay Harbor-based attorney Richard Elliott have been coming to these meals for a while.
“It’s a close-knit community, and it’s one of those communities where you don’t always need adversity to come together, which is nice,” Elliott said, later adding, “It’s nice to see people coming together in the off-season.” “It’s an opportunity to get out when there aren’t a lot of places open in the city.”
Organizers are accepting donations at these community lunches. This money is used to fund future meals and other local efforts. Guests gave about $800 in total, they said Monday.
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