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Delicious Kindness at Tai Fai in Oak Park as Customers Pay Food Forward

essentialTOPtempDelicious Kindness at Tai Fai Schrock2015_ad_twocitiesin Oak Park as Customers Pay Food Forward

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 1, 2016)

Oak Park, MI – “Let’s keep love carry on. Keep warming our city. Paid food tickets for whom needed.”

That is the sign on the wall of Tai Fai Restaurant at 8505 W. Nine Mile Road in Oak Park. The little sushi and Asian cuisine carry-out spot has been home to an experiment in kindness for the RB_04past few months – providing a way for customers to buy specific food items for future guests.

The idea started around the holidays, when chilly weather and the season of giving tend to bring issues of homelessness and hunger to the forefront of people’s minds.

“One of our customers told me about a pizza place that had a wall where you could buy a pizza or a slice for someone else who was hungry. She asked if I would do that here and I said we could give it a try,” said Tai Fi owner Bonnie Deng.

It’s simple. Someone pays for an item and the cashier puts it on a post it note for the giver to add a name or a message to and it goes up on the giving wall. Then anyone can come in, take the post it note, and turn it in for that food item without charge.SaharaAd_01

The idea has taken off. A steady stream of customers happily chips in an extra buck or two for items they know someone else will enjoy. Not only does the giving wall help feed the hungry, it’s also a great way for any customer to take a chance and try something new.

When she heard about the giving wall, Yetta Parker of Detroit had Deng ring up an order of baked avocado to add to the collection.

“This is really cool,” Parker said. “It’s nice to pay it forward. It’s cold out there, and some people are hungry. Even when you’re working, trying to pay bills, take care of kids. Things get tight. This is a cool idea.

Parker asked if Deng thought anyone was taking advantage of the generosity.

ChamberAd_02“I try not to scrutinize. You never know what someone is going through. Plus, they are going to eat it. It’s not like people are taking the food and throwing it away,” Deng said.

“I had a customer tell me they don’t like to give money to people on the street, but when they buy them food they know they are helping them with something they need. Everybody needs to eat.”

The menu at Tai Fai has a variety of exciting food choices, including many sushi options, noodle dishes, and appetizers all at inexpensive prices.  Egg roll seems to be the most popular pay it forward item though.

Deng says she’s not sure how long she will keep the wall going, but for now it is something that she and her customers feel good about.

Learn more about Tai Fai at

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