How Chaos in Baltimore Is Affecting Local Restaurants & the Community

By no means does the Foodable editorial staff claim to be investigative political journalists. But after recently speaking with Baltimore locals on the street, one thing is perfectly clear: While national media have focused solely on portraying the city’s recent events in an animalistic light, the city’s current state is far more complex.

Last week, we set out to find whether local businesses were getting hit, what the city needs to do to heal, and how Baltimore residents are trying to make a difference.

A common theme: Whether a local business owner, an out-of-town transplant or a lifelong local, Baltimore residents are full of pride and harbor a unique sense of responsibility for their city and its community.

Jimmy’s Famous Seafood: "More Than Just a Restaurant"

John Minadakis, the Owner at Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, is a prime example of how local businesses are paying it forward -- and getting hit due to Baltimore’s curfew last week. The curfew, which has since been lifted, was a result of out-of-control protests regarding Freddy Gray’s death under the watch of Baltimore police. Minadakis said the restaurant's original plans to air the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight last weekend would have amounted to one of the restaurant’s busiest nights. Jimmy’s also had to beef up on security, even after-hours, due to the recent events.

You would think these extra costs and lower sales would be troublesome, and they are, but Minadakis' positive attitude and sense of responsibility to help the community is extremely prevalent. “With great power comes great responsibility,” he said, quoting Spiderman.

Not only has Jimmy’s been feeding first responders, but the restaurant also provided lunch last week to students after hearing that city schools were canceled. “A lot of those kids depend on that lunch; that’s their only meal of the day,” said Minadakis. “Having friends who have been in that situation, who didn’t get lunch when school was canceled, I knew what it was like.”

But Jimmy’s has carried this attitude of social responsibility throughout the years — giving back to homeless shelters, local childrens' sports leagues, etc. “We look at ourselves as more than just a restaurant; we’re part of the community, we’re part of the Baltimore fabric,” said Minadakis. “People who think of Baltimore think of Jimmy’s, so it’s only right we give back to Baltimore."

With such a track record of social good, Minadakis says that Jimmy’s feels even more responsible during this tumultuous time.

“When the people put you in a situation to where you’re in a limelight, and you have a little more reach than the guy next to you, I think you’ve gotta use that energy and you’ve gotta use that influence in a positive manner,” said Minadakis. “Without a doubt, we’re doing everything we humanly can."

As you’ll see in the video above, this sense of city pride floods through everyday Baltimore residents as well.

Though it will certainly take a lot of time for the city to heal, there is hope yet. Because Baltimore isn’t necessarily just a fighting city, it is a city full of fighters — for hope, for success, and for truth.