World Half Full
The restaurant that's priceless
From the outside, the Alabama restaurant Drexell & Honeybee’s looks unremarkable. Once inside, it’s anything but. Pick up a menu and you’ll notice something unusual: there are no prices. That’s because the owners, Freddie McMillan and Lisa Thomas-McMillan, offer those in the community who are hungry a free feed.
Lisa began campaigning for the hungry almost 25 years ago when, as a supermarket cashier, she encountered a customer with little money for food. When told of others in the neighbourhood who were also experiencing the same, Lisa sprung into action. “That next morning, I started cooking 26 breakfasts and delivering them each morning,” she told Alabama Living. “In my house, in my kitchen. I cooked, and it started something in me.”
Lisa was now on a mission. “The thing about hunger is, you don’t know who’s going hungry,” she says. “You can’t see it on their faces. You don’t know what’s in someone’s cabinet, or more importantly, what’s not.” The idea of a no-pay restaurant came to mind in 2016. Since then, the restaurant has fed college students, veterans, those without food at Thanksgiving and Christmas — basically any person going hungry.
The price-free menu includes chicken and dumplings, BBQ ribs and pork, mac and cheese, meatloaf, beef stew, bread pudding and more. When it comes time to pay-up, diners are directed to a donation box. “If you can give, give; if you can’t, don’t — we don’t care,” Lisa says. “We don’t worry about that.”
Lisa acknowledges she and Freddie wouldn’t be able to run the restaurant without other people’s help — all the staff at Drexell and Honeybee’s are volunteers, and the food is donated from local businesses. “This is a community thing,” she says. “Everyone helps. Without our donations and our volunteers, we couldn’t make it. But we know it’s all worth it in the end.”