A walk through America to support the restaurant industry

Red Bank brothers and foodservice veterans Aiden and Louis Ardine share a passion for connecting with people, which they often did when working on Bond Street in Asbury Park.

After the stressful and pandemic summer of 2020, they quit their jobs on Bond Street – Aiden was a bartender, Louis a barback and a handyman. Last December, the brothers traveled to Las Vegas to visit their grandmother. They passed through states they had never visited, which they felt were filled with untold stories. The trip had a huge impact on them, which led Aiden to ask Louis, “Do you consider yourself walking across the country with me?

They have started planning their trip, which begins May 1, and are partnering with the Community Foundation of Catering Workers (RWCF) to raise funds for workers in industry and small businesses affected by the pandemic. Along the way, the two plan to speak with business owners from across the country, share the stories of those businesses, and encourage people to donate. Aiden and Louis plan to pay their own expenses so that all the money they raise can go to the fund.

“We will try to give a platform and a voice to small businesses and individuals,” says Aiden. As for Louis, he’s “excited to see America from a new perspective” as they chat with dozens of business owners across the country.

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Table Hopping: Tell me about your experience in the restaurant industry.
Aiden Ardine: I have been working in Asbury since I graduated from college. I thought if I’m a bartender I can move to any city or across the country, and I’ll still be able to support myself while looking for a real job in quotes. Four years later, I realized that any job that pays the bills is real work, and the bartender gave me the flexibility and the means to pursue my other interests, like writing and traveling.

Louis Ardine: I was not a bartender per se. I had worked at Bond Street before and then took a year off, but I liked this job because it was a part-time job, and you get to meet people. I learned a lot from people, it was really cool work. When Bond Street got a PPP loan, I was able to come back and do maintenance work because I am very handy and I can do carpentry. I also had another job for a roaster called Maiden Coffee Roasters which was cool as they taught me a new skill.

TH: Has walking through America been an idea in your head for a long time?
AA: We were decidedly, given our upbringing, open to such an idea. We grew up hiking with our dad who was from Maine so at a very young age he showed us this appreciation of being outdoors in nature. We’ve always made getting out, hiking and camping a priority, and we’re both runners. When I was abroad, I hiked through northern Spain called El Camino de Santiago, and spent a month hiking.

THE: I have always liked to run. Cross-country skiing has helped me a lot to have free space and to learn about myself. I remember reading [Christopher McDougall’s] delivered Born to run, and I was thinking about how you could run across America, never take it too seriously, but it was still floating.

TH: Who will benefit from your walk?
AA: If we were to do something like this, given our track record, we wanted to help give back to our community and make it a charity. I started looking for people with Covid-19 impact towards the restaurant industry. We have found a group called Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, and 100% of the money we raise will go directly to them.

TH: What will the RWCF do with the money raised?
AA: They provide direct aid in the form of grants to individuals, as well as funds for regional nonprofits that may have a better way to distribute funds in their communities than a national organization. They are also offering small business interest free loans to businesses that have been affected by the pandemic.

TH: How are you going to market the restaurant industry along the way?
AA: We are planning to have a huge social media presence because it’s the movement of the world right now. We’re trying to connect with small businesses along the way, to tell a little bit about their story, how the pandemic has affected their business, and what they want people to know about their experiences.

TH: What are you waiting for the most?
THE: In New Jersey, we live in a bubble in terms of diversity and ideology. I think of my group of friends; we all agree on the same things, and it’s obviously a crazy time in America. I think the restaurant model and the idea of ​​breaking bread could help us learn and experience other aspects of American culture. You may disagree with someone on political matters, but you find that you actually have a lot in common outside of that. It will be super interesting and I can’t wait to learn more about it.

TH: How long is your trip going to last, and what are you going to do next?
AA: Hopefully we’ll be done by the end of September. We will be crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with our friends and family, and I guess I’ll have to start writing a book about our experience. Hopefully by this point we’ve raised more than our goal of $ 30,000 and contributed to a meaningful conversation about how the restaurant industry does business. Sharing a meal with people is one of the best and most powerful human experiences. We just want to honor that throughout our journey – I think it’s something a lot of people can relate to and relate to.

Aiden and Louis start their walk on May 1st. Follow the trip on their Instagram, Ardinesx America, and learn about the people and businesses they talk to along the way to unmutedstories.org. To show your support, make a donation at the Community Food Service Workers Foundation.

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Cecil N. Messick

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