Winnie’s restaurant offering free meals to those in need

4 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — If someone in The County needs a meal but can’t pay for it, Dustin Mancos said to head over to Winnie’s. 

Mancos, the owner of Winnie’s restaurant, is offering meals to people in need — at no charge. 

Over the weekend, Mancos posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, “If you or someone you know can’t afford to eat, my team will take care of it! We as people have enough to worry about. Where your next meal comes from shouldn’t be one of them. People helping people. Just tell the counter Dustin sent you!” 

Mancos, 26, knows what it is like to struggle. Growing up in Caribou, he was raised by a single mother who couldn’t always provide for him. 

“I came from nothing,” he said. Mancos said he still remembers how the community helped to take care of him when he was younger and now he wants to give back what he can. 

Earlier this month, Mancos and one of his employees decided to start their own community service project. “Good Deed Monday,” as they call it, is a day dedicated to helping people in need. Every Monday when the restaurant is closed, Mancos and 15-year-old Carson Cole do something good for someone in the area. 

As part of their new tradition, Mancos and Cole opened up the restaurant for a few hours on Monday and welcomed residents from the Caribou Rehab and Nursing Center for lunch. 

Since making his post on Winnie’s Facebook page, Mancos said he’s already seen people in the community get involved. He said that one customer who’d seen the post online paid for her meal and then offered a $20 bill to go toward helping someone in need. 

The post received almost 500 likes and 1,000 shares. 

Mancos said through this project, he wants to encourage other business owners in the area to do the same. “I can’t feed the whole county by myself.”

He said that every time a family comes in that doesn’t have money to buy enough food to share or can’t afford an ice cream cone for the children, Mancos is reminded of his own childhood. “I see myself at that table.” 

He said he wants to create more positivity in the area and let people know that they have a free meal at Winnie’s, if they need it. “It’s not about money for me,” Mancos said. 

For himself, the service represents a larger message he wants to convey to County residents. “Take care of the people that take care of you,” he said.