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'No regrets': Popular downtown Macon restaurant revamps Giving Board after drop in customers

Famous Mike's created the board last month leading to an unexpected result, but owner Mike Seekins says 'we're not gonna stop.'

MACON, Ga. — One downtown Macon restaurant is seeing some improvement after a drop-off in customers due to a good deed.

Famous Mike's set up a 'Giving Board' in July. Customers could come in, buy an extra meal, and a receipt would go on the board for anyone in need of a free meal.

Since then, they've seen huge numbers of homeless people come in to take advantage of the offer, but it led to an unexpected consequence.

Because of the large number of people who came to eat, the restaurant would often be packed full, so people stopped coming.

At first, they decided to limit the number of meals given out, but people would show up before Mike's would open and wait outside for the "first come, first serve" meals.

"It got overwhelming," said owner Mike Seekins. "You're not going to want to go into a place that you see 30 people standing out front."

Seekins says he called some of his regulars to find out what was going on after having "suspicions" that it was because of the board. They told him it was because of the large crowd and wait times.

"It hasn't been anything to do with the clientele or the class of people, or who it is. Nothing like that," he said.

Seekins wanted to fix the problem, but he refused to get rid of the board altogether. Instead, he decided to set specific times for those in need to come get food.

From 9:30-11 a.m. and 1:30-3 p.m. Monday through Friday, people can come in and take advantage of the Giving Board.

Seekins says they tried it out on Wednesday and it worked well. He has even seen some of his regulars come through the door again.

"They're back or coming back," Seekins said.

Seekins says his relationship with his customers is important, but nothing is more important than helping others.

"We have to still do it, we're not gonna stop. No regrets. The people came out and supported me yesterday, wonderfully, and that's all we need to have happen. We need to stay in business so we can take care of the needy," he said.

In the future, Famous Mike's hopes to partner with the Brookdale Warming Center for an event to help feed the homeless.

If you'd like to donate to the giving board, you can go to the restaurant at 524 Poplar Street or contact them at 478-200-1122.

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