BREWTON, Ala. (WKRG) — Lisa Thomas-McMillian knows how it feels to go hungry.
“It’s the loneliest feeling in the world. If I can keep anybody else from going through that, then it’s something that I’m committed to do. I’m going to do that,” she said.
That’s why you’ll find her behind the counter at her donations-only restaurant Drexell and Honeybees masked up, and ready to serve all of the foods she grew up on.
“It brings you joy deep down in your soul,” she said. “Truly you don’t know who needs help.”
The Brewton restaurant has quite a following, giving free hot meals to every person that walks through the door, no questions asked.
Slade Smith is a regular.
“I think it’s a blessing to the community,” he said. “It’s a real gift from God. To be able to come and enjoy some great food like this, it’s a miracle in action.”
Julianne Shannon was able to stop by with her family, before heading back home to Indianapolis.
“The concept is amazing, and I wish there were more places like that, that did this kind of thing,” Shannon said.
As Lisa and her husband Fred celebrate the restaurant’s third year of service this month, they reflect on the past year and how they had to adjust.
First COVID restrictions shut the restaurant down, switching them to take out orders only.
Shortly after that, Hurricane Sally blew in.
“Hurricane Sally flooded us out. It took us about a month to get back. We lost a few freezers and everything,” Thomas-McMillian said.
As the couple worked get things back up and running, a familiar face stepped in.
Comedian Steve Harvey, moved by their story, invited them on his show and surprised them with a brand-new refrigerator.
“I just love it when people get rewarded. Ms. Lisa and Freddie, ya’ll are just good people down there,” Harvey said on the taping of his show.
Then Iron Chef Cat Cora sweetened the deal with a generous gift of her own.
“My partners at HomeBistro and I want to donate 10 thousand dollars to support your vision. You’re going to make me cry. Lisa, I’m going to cry. This is so heartwarming,” said Cora.
Fred McMillian says lisa’s passion to feed the need was so strong, they used half of their retirement to make Drexell and Honeybees a reality.
‘She’s had this passion for years, way before I met her,” he said. “I feel that that’s what a spouse is for. Is to help a spouse as much as they can.”
As life slowly gets back to normal, Lisa said she’ll be here, with a hot plate, and a smile.
“I could have a steak on my table today, and nothing on my table tomorrow. You don’t ever know,” Thomas-McMillian said. “We’re going to try to continue to try to stay open and feed the community.”
Drexell and Honeybees is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until food runs out.
Click here if you would like to donate.