The Buttery Shelf Eatery in Lafayette, Ind. has been serving a free meal to people every Thursday for years. This was especially helpful in recent years, as Tippecanoe County’s soup kitchens were overwhelmed with more folks in need.
According to the Lafayette Journal and Courier, some businesses near the Buttery Shelf Eatery didn't like the poor people congregating at the restaurant on Thursdays and recently shut down the giveaway.
Even though there have been up to 70 people at a time during these free meals, there have been few incidents and no one has been arrested.
Jerry Kalal, owner of K. Dee’s Coffee and Roasting Co., led the opposition against the free lunches, which Kalal said were scaring away customers. He claimed to lose $500-$800 per week.
“I said, ‘You do this little soup kitchen, but you’re closing down all the other businesses,’” recalled Kalal. “I’m not against helping people, but when it hurts my building and other businesses, I go off.”
Buckley continued to serve poor people, but Kalal called the police to complain about the Buttery Shelf Eatery.
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An anonymous caller once told police that people were doing drugs behind the Buttery Shelf Eatery, but there was a police officer watching the scene already and stated people “were just standing there waiting for the place to open.”
Another time, police were called because a line of poor people for the free lunches blocked some traffic.
Eventually, Buckley grew tired of the "bullying" by local businesses and ended the free lunches.
The Buttery Shelf Eatery posted on its Facebook page on Nov. 28:
We appreciate your support. But it is what it is and most people will not change how they feel. We too hope that one day we will be able to feed the community again.
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Also, the comment that Mr. Kalal made "if he had to buy the Buttery Shelf then he would." Let's understand that will not be happening. Ms Buckley is not selling the restaurant to anyone & especially not him. She lives to help everyone feel equally as important as the next person. We ask that each person pray for peace.
Not every local business was happy to see the free meals end.
“I just hated to see the Thursdays shut down,” stated Ivan Brumbaugh, owner of Main Street Cheese and Wine. “I hate to think that one person in this town or on this block has enough power to shut things down or to make it so rough, people are afraid to do it. It’s not right.”