• Nick Zacharias

Hudson’s Chez Sauvé serving the public good


New owners Andrew Dumas and Sheena Purcell, pictured above in front of a window covered with rainbow-coloured generosity, are taking donations and topping up free meals for those in need during the pandemic as they start off a different kind of summer season at Sauvé’s.

Celebrated Hudson casse croute Chez Sauvé, taken over last fall by husband and wife team Andrew Dumas and Sheena Purcell, has not only persevered during the pandemic but has been running an ongoing campaign to provide free meals for individuals or families in need during these trying times.

“It’s been an amazing success,” Dumas was pleased to report several weeks into the campaign. “The people of Hudson have really shown their generosity, and people who might be temporarily finding it hard to make ends meet are getting food for their families.”

Free meals so people don’t go hungry

The campaign was kick-started with a donation from Amanda Walker of Royal LePage, and a starter fund from the owners at Sauvé’s. Customers who order take-out from the restaurant (and who have the means) are encouraged to add an extra $10 to their order to go towards a meal for someone in need. Sauvé’s then makes up the difference of the price of a meal, and each one is written on a coloured Post-it note on the front window. Anyone who could use a hand is encouraged to come by and cash in a ticket for a meal, no questions asked.

Said Dumas, “So far we’ve handed out over 120 meals, as well as being able to give a $1,750 cash donation to Le Pont/Bridging food bank.” At first the response for donations was high, and the redeeming of meals was fairly low, but that has shifted. Dumas and Purcell surmised that either people are feeling the strain a little more with the passage of weeks, or people were hesitant at first to ask for free food, but they are happy to see that it’s working.

“We just want to help, and there’s no judgement here,” said Dumas. “In 17 years working with the Hudson Fire Department, bringing around food baskets at Christmas, there were times I was delivering food to houses that were nicer than mine. But we learned very quickly that just because someone might have a nice house or a fancy car doesn’t mean that if they lose their job they aren’t going to start feeling the pinch when the bills pile up. The really nice thing is that with this campaign, we’ve already seen people who have come in for a free meal, and later came back after things turned around for them and donated meals for somebody else.” So there is no need to be shy about it. “Anyway, for all we know, the person cashing in a meal ticket is picking up for a friend or a neighbour who needs it.”

Not the summer they envisioned

“This isn’t exactly the first summer as new owners we’d pictured when we took on the place,” laughed Dumas and Purcell, but they are still happy with the way things are going. “We have a lot less individual traffic than we should at this time of year, but we do have a lot of people phoning in larger orders for the whole family and coming to pick up.” Since for now there can be no seating, they are just asking people to respect the 2-metre social distancing protocol while waiting to pick up orders.

“As soon as the government allows us to, we’re ready to open up our terrace again,” said Dumas. They even have plans to expand around the front and side to allow room for more tables while making sure to keep enough open space between them. “We’re just waiting for the word.”

As for the ‘Post-it meal’ campaign, they have a ready supply and will be happy to keep it going as long as there is a need. “Even when all of this pandemic business is over, maybe in a quieter way, we’d like to continue with this because we see the good that it’s doing.”

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