Dishing out good: DeLand restaurant serves free meal to anyone who needs it

DeLand Dishes Back gives out free meals on last Monday of every month

DeLAND, Fla. – Employees at a DeLand restaurant are not only providing a delicious meal, they’re providing it for free.

Byte a Modern Bistro partnered with a new nonprofit organization called DeLand Dishes Back and serves the free meal to anyone who needs it.

“If you come in and say you want the free meal, we’re not going to ask why,” said restaurant owner Wes Harrolle. “Get the experience of going out and having a good time with your family. Forget about anything that’s going on in their lives maybe for an hour.”

Harrolle said the idea started in May out of the blue. He and his good friend would always surprise people by quietly paying their bill.

“He’ll pick up a tab for a couple on a first date, or a family,” Harrolle said. “During the quarantine, we were talking and he’s like, ‘How can I do this on a bigger scale?’”

And DeLand Dishes Back was born.

“When he approached us with the idea, it was a no-brainer. We instantly said yes,” Harrolle said.

The man behind the meals is real estate investor Vidar Antonsen, who has quietly paid for at least 5,000 dinners so far, and said he has even bigger plans.

“It’s fun to treat people good. I don’t need to see it,” Antonsen said. “Later on, we’re going to be able to take donations, so we’re going to run it, like, more, on a bigger scale -- that’s my hope.”

Both men said they’re happy to provide a meal that they believe is worth so much more.

“That’s what it’s about for him and for us, is giving this feeling more than a meal,” Harrolle said.

DeLand Dishes Back gives out free meals on the last Monday of every month.

Click here if you’d like to help provide a meal.

About the Author:

Loren Korn is a native Texan who joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2014. She was born and raised in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Journalism.