Cox's participates

Jay Davis of Morehead City stands Friday in front of Cox’s Restaurant in Morehead City, one of many restaurants he has helped by ordering meals that are then given to families in need. (Cheryl Burke photo)

Note: This story was republished from our regular news content at carolinacoastonline.com.

MOREHEAD CITY — Jay Davis wanted to help county restaurants that have lost business due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and also help families in need of food.

Just days before the birth of his son in mid-March, Mr. Davis created a Facebook page offering to purchase 50 meals from Ruddy Duck Tavern to give to people struggling to keep food on their tables. The response was overwhelming.

He quickly repeated the same offer with three other restaurants, and 150 additional free meals were given away.

Despite the challenges of being a new dad, Mr. Davis said he and his wife Liz decided to keep the Facebook effort going, and since March 18 he and others assisting him have helped about 35 restaurants feed 2,500 residents.

“Since we started, we’ve had between 45 and 50 people donate money to keep this going,” he said Friday. “We’ve raised over $25,000 so far. I plan to keep this going until our restaurants open back up.”

Mr. Davis said he currently has restaurants booked through Thursday, May 14. He estimates it costs roughly $500 each night.

“I post the restaurant we plan to purchase meals from two days ahead and then people can order meals. We fill orders until they run out for that day,” he said.

One of the restaurants that has participated in the program is Cox’s Family Restaurant in Morehead City. The restaurant’s owner, Ray Cox, said he appreciates what Mr. Davis is doing.

Mr. Cox said he’s lost 80% of his business since the pandemic began, despite serving takeout meals.

“What he’s doing is a big gesture,” Mr. Cox said. “I’m trying to keep my employees busy. I’m amazed at all the people that are trying to help each other during this time.”

Mr. Davis, a father of four who sells insurance for Chalk and Gibbs Insurance, said he’s also been overwhelmed by the generosity of people donating toward the initiative. He added that he’s been touched by the responses he’s received from residents receiving the meals.

As a busy insurance agent, he admits it’s been challenging with a newborn at home, however, “I’ve been blessed, so I want to give back to other people.”

Mr. Davis said he got the idea for his initiative after listening to a restaurant owner in another state who started a similar program.

“It was a gentleman in New York. He said he would try to serve as many meals as he could until he went bankrupt or the virus ended,” Mr. Davis said. “When he was asked why he was doing it. He answered, ‘How can I not do it?’ That really got me thinking. I had to do something to help.”

Those wanting to donate toward the effort or needing meals can go to Mr. Davis’ Facebook page.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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