Rodney’s Kitchen is a new restaurant in downtown Waterloo. It started as a catering business and small
counter service, but the owner Rodney Lewis just opened at a new location downtown with a menu that mixes American grill, soul food, and Mediterranean dishes.
Like any other restaurant owner, Lewis is hoping to secure a loyal clientele with great food and great service, but he also has another mission. He’s giving away lunches to local kids who need them, because he says he knows what it’s like to be hungry.
"I was one of those kids at one point. You know, mom is working two, three jobs. I'm the oldest. Sometimes you come home, there's no food in the refrigerator; you have to wait until she comes home with groceries," he says.
"I know a lot of these kids here, probably their last meal was on Friday, and they probably won't eat again until Monday morning when they go back to school. I want to prevent that. I want to be able to provide them meals throughout the summer season. I'm going to continue this lunch program throughout the school year [...] I'm going to try to continue it on the weekends, when I know they will probably need the dinners the most."
In this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Lewis about what it was like to expand his business in the last year, his future plans for the restaurant, and the free lunch program.