A local favorite on Smith Mountain Lake is doubling down on its efforts to support the community during the pandemic.
The Landing Restaurant has kept its dining room closed, but hasn’t stopped feeding people in the community.
But as weeks of this pandemic turn into months, they need more help.
As summer ticks on at Smith Mountain Lake, vacation season is nearing its end. Tiffany and Bruno Silva own The Landing, and said they would normally be slammed right about now, but there’s never been a season like this.
“We figured at this point, you know, we didn’t realize we’d be doing it as long as we have, but we don’t know how to stop and now it’s raise the money, keep it going,” Tiffany Silva said.
The restaurant has pivoted from serving upscale dishes to feeding the masses with those same chef-inspired meals via to-go containers.
The Landing Love Project has become a full-fledged nonprofit and has topped 25,000 meals. 10 News rode along with them when the pandemic began back in the spring. They’ve been delivering food three times a week right to people’s doors since.
“It’s a necessary element in our area, they need help, people need help. And I think it’s really going to get worse and I have a feeling our numbers will increase again this fall,” Silva said.
Donations for the program started strong, but as the weeks wore on, a kind of “donor fatigue” set in. Silva said it costs $20,000 a month to feed those who need it, and she’s not known to turn anyone away.
A frequent customer of the restaurant donated his Harley Davidson to the project. They’re raffling it off at $100 a ticket - each one buys the project 25 meals.
Volunteer drivers haven’t let up either. People like Jim Wilson have continued to show up, driving up to three hours a night around the area delivering food.
“You’ve gotta help out, I mean it’s just great. And I’m retired so what am I going to do to get out of my wife’s hair than maybe help with the Love Project,” Wilson said.
The money to buy the food comes from the community, not from the Silva’s pockets, and they’ll be the first to tell you that.
But throughout this all, they have kept the restaurant’s dining room closed and while not spending any of their own money, they’re not making any either. To-go food covers the bills and staff costs but there’s little to nothing left over.
Despite not putting any money in their bank account each month, their giving hearts haven’t slowed down.
“Any time that you start feeling bad for yourself go drive to a route and take food to somebody because all it does it makes your day a little better and you realize that you are in really good shape,” Silva said.