A wildfire nearly destroyed Talent, Oregon, but The Grotto still stands—and co-owners Anthony Mouyios and Dave Monroe are making sure to take care of the community’s people in need, even though Monroe himself suffered huge losses in the disaster.
The fires burned 3,200 acres while damaging or destroying about 600 homes and 100 commercial buildings, according to news reports. Many of the homes were left flattened and charred.
With many locals left homeless and broke, The Grotto, a mainstay in Talent for 20 years, has begun serving free hot meals every Saturday morning until the food runs out. “We have something for people, whether it’s a mini-pizza, my [clam] chowder, or today it was dirty rice and beans,” Mouyios told a local TV station recently. “We’ll have something every Saturday for someone in need.”
The Grotto’s owners have seen firsthand the enormous personal costs of the wildfires that have rampaged across the Pacific Northwest. Monroe and his wife, Lori, lost their house and everything they owned in the fire, as did Mouyios’ nephew, Justin Lemus—and it was the second time Lemus has seen his home burn down.
Mouyios has started crowdfunding campaigns for both Monroe’s family and Lemus.
Mouyios and Monroe have built up a reputation for pitching in when people in their community are going hungry. In May they gave away dozens of free 6-inch and 8-inch personal pizzas on Sundays to people who were struggling in the COVID-19 pandemic. “We max out right around 55 pizzas, because that’s our capacity for how many pans we have, so that’s kind of our limit,” Mouyios said at the time.
“Everybody kind of knows us, and, you know, we want to give back because they’ve definitely supported us, and we want to make sure that nobody goes hungry,” Mouyios added.