A New Year’s tradition started by Memphis chef returns

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As the Mid-South prepares for a new year, one group will make sure some of the city’s homeless population will start 2023 with a hot meal and warm clothing.

Breakfast, winter coats, haircuts, and comfort.

For another New Year’s Day, that’s what Kelly English, Chef and Iris Restaurant Group partner, said they want to provide, even if it’s just for three hours.

“It’s a day that we get to provide some moments of dignity to a group who doesn’t get to experience dignity enough,” said English.

That group is the homeless, or as English calls them our ‘Neighbors Without Homes’.

He said they’ll have the opportunity to be pampered and groomed at The Second Line on Monroe Avenue on Sunday morning.

He said it’s a tradition he’s excited to bring back, and it all started just five years ago with a Facebook post.

“We just put a small post out saying we’re gonna open our doors for our neighbors without homes, we’re gonna feed them a meal, we’re gonna give them some jackets if anyone had jackets they wanted to drop off, the response was amazing,” he said.

Since then, it’s grown – with partnerships, more volunteers, and more donations every time.

He said people have brought in everything from new or worn coats, hats, socks, and blankets.

“It’s a very impactful thing, especially when you see someone and their entire body posture changes before they get cleaned up to after,” he said.

So what’s on the menu?

General manager Derk Meitzler said there will be options.

“We’ll be here early getting food ready, eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy,” he listed.

For those looking to help with donations or their time, Meitzler said there’s always room.

“It’s doing something good for your neighbor, and right now, we need a lot of that.”

The Second Line is located at 2144 Monroe Avenue.

The breakfast will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Jan. 1.