NEW YORK - David LaMarr is a New York based artist who works regularly as a stage actor. But ever since COVID-19 shut down theaters here in New York City and around the country, LaMarr has been struggling to put food on his table.

So that’s why he’s heading to Marseille, a Hell’s Kitchen staple that’s been in business for almost two decades. LaMarr’s not at the restaurant to work, rather he’s there as a guest.

What You Need To Know

  • Due to the pandemic, work and sometimes food may be hard to come by for those in the entertainment industry

  • Two restaurants in the heart of Hell's Kitchen are trying to change that

  • They are offering free meals to members of Actor’s Equity that can be paid back on their own timeline

Here - and at Nizza down the street - working professionals who make up the theater community and hold union cards, like David, can eat for free. They are set up with a house account and can pay back what they owe as quickly or as slowly as they are able to.

“Hopefully we can pay it back at some point when our union and comes back when Broadway comes back, when we're working again, it's very tough right now,” said LaMarr.

LaMarr was performing out of town in a regional production of “Kinky Boots” when the virus started attacking people living in the US.

“I'm just trying to make ends meet. there's a lot of bills I have to pay. There's a lot of dental work that I have to do. We don't know if our healthcare is going to stay with us the entire time,” said LaMarr.

Robert Guarino is the owner of Marseille. He says it’s a no brainer helping folks like LaMarr.

“So much of our business revolves around the theater, you know, in many ways, you know, the, the entree of everyone's evening is the theater performance and we're there for them before the show or after the show. So our success is very tied with, with Broadway and with the neighborhood. And we really are grateful for that. And we're, you know, we're, uh, we're thinking about, you know, the Broadway community and, you know, can't wait for them to come back when the time is right,” said Guarino, who is also a partner in a number of surrounding businesses in the Hell’s Kitchen area including 5 Napkin Burger, Schmackarys and beyond.

At meal’s end LaMarr always gives back in his own way.

“I am more than willing to tip, you know, this, this is the hospitality industry. They need to survive too,” said LaMarr.

Now nourished with good food and kindness from neighbors, LaMarr is off to start his work day as a host at another restaurant downtown.

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