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Bainbridge Island restaurant offers free rice bowls during coronavirus outbreak

Ba Sa restaurant, which specializes in Vietnamese and Southeast Asian cuisine, is also selling the bowls for just $5.

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. — Bainbridge Island is 35 minutes across the water from Seattle and can feel isolated. But with 56 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kitsap County, the concern is growing, and islanders are doing what they can to help one another.

"It's a community that looks after each other, very much so,” said Peter Raffa as he picked up takeout lunch from Ba Sa restaurant.

The family-owned eatery was once packed with customers paying an average of $20 a meal. Now, it's takeout-only, and business is down 70%.

"This is nothing we ever could have anticipated,” said owner Trinh Nguyen. “We're just processing this day by day."

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Despite their losses, she and her brother Thai are keeping the kitchen open for as long as possible. The reason is two-fold: they want to protect the jobs of their employees and help their community.

"We're a small business at the end of the day,” Thai said. “We can't make a big contribution, but I think the best contribution we can make is through our food."

To that end, they added something new to the menu – community rice bowls made with braised pork, greens, and eggs.

Credit: KING TV
The Community Rice Bowl at Ba Sa consists of rice, braised pork or chicken, greens, and an egg.

They're selling the bowl for just $5. If a customer doesn’t have $5, the bowl is free.

"Don't hesitate, it's here for you,” Trinh said. “If you need it, come on in."

The Nguyens know what it means to need. Their parents fled Vietnam, and the family lived in a refugee camp for seven years.

"We know what it's like to be starving. We know what it's like to not have food on the table,” Trinh said. "Whatever we can do to give back and to help the community at this time, we're happy to do so."

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The family said they'll offer the reduced/free meals for as long as possible.

"It's comforting,” Thai said. “Especially during this time when people are still going out and enjoying your food, it means something really special."

In addition to the community rice bowls, Ba Sa is also honoring their happy hour prices for takeout.

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