Montreal restaurant Marche Ferdous warms hearts with free meals policy

image copyrightCTV Montreal
image captionChef Abdelkader Bejaoui dishes up a hot meal at Marche Ferdous

A Middle Eastern restaurant in Montreal, Canada, has warmed hearts and stomachs by quietly giving away free meals to the hungry.

Marche Ferdous started handing out food about four months ago in a bid to help homeless people.

"We do not ask any questions, we do not judge people," Canadian media quoted the restaurant's co-owner, Yahya Hashemi, as saying.

"They want to eat, [we] give them the food. That's it, that's all."

The only sign of the eatery's generosity is a simple A4 sheet on the door.

"People with no money welcome to eat free," it reads in English and French.

Every day, four or five meals are given away, according to reports.

Mr Hashemi, who is originally from Iran, said he looked on it as a business expense.

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He said helping the needy was part of his Muslim faith, and that he wanted to give something back to Canada, which he felt had given him so much.

He told CBC News that customers aware of the goodwill gesture had started backing it by leaving money to fund others' meals.

"They come here, they donate $20, $30, $50 Cdn [£12-£30] and they say, 'Okay, the next few people are on me'," Mr Hashemi said.

CTV News Montreal quoted the restaurant's chef, Abdelkader Bejaoui, who said the project was "not a big deal".

"It doesn't matter, because at night if you still have leftover food you end up throwing it out, so why not give to those in need?" he said.

image copyrightJOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images
image captionOne local who tried the restaurant's wares praised its falafel sandwiches (stock picture)

Co-owner Ala Amiry agreed. "This is a small gesture that we hope can make people in a difficult situation feel a bit better," he told the Montreal Gazette.

Marche Ferdous has gathered an online fanclub since one customer reportedly decided to test the freebie policy.

Sean Jalbert, who works nearby, said he told staff he had no money and received a warm welcome and a cost-free meal. He said he was "blown away" - and duly paid in full as he could afford it.

Mr Jalbert shared his experience on Facebook, leading to a rush of comments in support of the restaurant.

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