Tigard Restaurant Owner Offers Free Meals to ‘Financially Distressed, Lonely, and in Need’

Abraham Fakhoury moves at lightning speed around Davidson’s Casual Dining restaurant, which he purchased in April 2019, as he answers the staff’s questions, fills glasses with water and drinks, greets customers, hands out menus, pops into the kitchen and occasionally handles the cash register.

He works at the restaurant 10 to 15 hours a day, with his wife Mervot usually working by his side, as they are on a mission to continue providing the delicious home-cooked meals that Davidson’s is famous for.

But since Fakhoury bought the restaurant, Davidson’s is now known for something else too: Giving away free breakfasts on Veterans Day and free dinners on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve day, with more free meals to come.

Benjamin Fakhoury chats with a group of ladies while they wait for a table.

A lot of veterans eat at Davidson’s, and Fakhoury decided that Veterans Day, which is also his birthday, was a good time to show them they are appreciated with free breakfasts.

Later in November, Davidson served free Thanksgiving dinners that included turkey and ham, all the trimmings, pumpkin pie and drinks, and more than 300 people came to eat. Fakhoury was stunned when many members of the community showed up to volunteer along with his family as the staff had the day off.

“There is so much love in this city,” he said. “The dinner was supposed to run from 4 to 8, but people were lined up at 3. It was an amazing four hours, and people were so appreciative. This has never happened in Tigard. There is the story in the bible about the lady who gave her last two coins, and one lady who came to our dinner left 70 cents on the table with a note saying she was sorry but that was all she had.”

Fakhoury explained that “growing up, we were never rich. We were lower class, but my mom taught us that we were rich in dignity and pride. My mom and dad were Christian and very religious. My mom told me she named me from the bible. Do you know how many times Abraham is mentioned in the bible? The number is 294, No. 2 after Jesus. We were taught that as long as you give, you will be blessed. My mom and dad taught us that giving is better than receiving.

Benjamin Fakhoury and his wife Mervat work side by side at Davidson’s Casual Dining since buying the restaurant 10 months ago.

“The day after Thanksgiving, we were talking about the dinner and how overwhelmed we were by everything that happened. But no matter how positive you try to be, people will be negative. Some said we did it for advertising, but we did it to be good. If you get a bonus, that’s great as long as there is benefit to others.”

Three days before Christmas, Fokhoury’s daughter, one of his three children, put a post on Facebook about the upcoming Christmas Eve dinner, which got 120,000 views, tons of positive comments and led to another successful community dinner.

“If you work in a community, you should be part of the community,” Fakhoury said. “You need to be involved and give something back. When schools ask for a donation, I contribute gift certificates or something to help their programs.”

On paper, he probably wasn’t the most logical person to take over Davidson’s as his only prior restaurant experience was working as a busboy at a Bob’s Big Boy where he grew up and graduated from high school in Granada Hills, Calif. But decades later, after he sold his auto repair business in California, his daughter was living in Vancouver and working in a restaurant and told him he should move up here and buy a restaurant.

“I looked at 20 different restaurants for sale, and I ate here (at Davidson’s) several times,” Fakhoury said. “It was in a good location and was always busy, and I had management skills, so I bought it and made a lot of changes to make it more efficient. I came up with a plan: Don’t say no to the customer. Whatever substitution the customer wants, do it. It works out.”

In the restaurant business, there are two areas: the “backroom” (kitchen) and the front room where the customers are.

“I call the kitchen the ‘situation room,’” Fakhoury said. “Food preparation is the most important part of a restaurant. I love challenges. That’s what makes running the restaurant easy, but my wife says I work too hard. I love it. I don’t like the easy jobs. I tell myself always: You have to think outside the box.”

One issue that concerns Fakhoury is the homeless situation in Tigard. He routinely gives away food to the homeless in Portland, where they are much more visible than in Tigard. Sometimes he gets thanked; sometimes he gets honked at; and one time a man gave him $1,200 so he could donate more food.

“Every time I hand out food, I feel him watching over me,” Fakhoury said.

He said his biggest problem is finding time to get everything done that he wants to accomplish, but that hasn’t stopped him from working to set up a nonprofit foundation called War on Hunger, which will be able to accept donations.

Talking on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Fakhoury said, “Today is Dream Day, but I dream 365 days a year, and I want to give away more food. I hope to get other restaurants to do this too. My goal is to provide free breakfasts to the police and firefighters when they come into the restaurant and once a month give meals to the poor and homeless and distressed. I also want to send them away with a food box. They are lonely.

“Maybe I can get other businesses to help. It would be amazing. The United States of America is the richest country on Earth, and no one should go hungry here. We should have a goal that no one goes to sleep hungry in Tigard.”

Fakhoury walks his talk. Starting Feb. 10, Davidson’s will provide a free dinner on the second Monday of the month from 3 to 6 p.m. to anyone who is financially distressed, lonely or in need.

Davidson’s Casual Dining is located at 12830 S.W. Pacific Highway; the phone number is 503-639-5111.