Montreal (CNN) - A free meal and a friendly smile aren’t easy to come by.
But a pair of Muslim immigrants changed that for some in Montreal with a sign in their restaurant window.
Motivated by their own experiences with hunger in Iraq and Iran, they offer a free meal to anyone in their adopted community who needs it – no questions asked.
“We went through this,” said Ali Amiry, 51, who left Iraq in 1992, fleeing the regime of Saddam Hussein and crippling sanctions. “We know what it means to be hungry.”
Amiry’s 16-year-old daughter, Ramin, made a sign about nine months ago to hang at the restaurant, inviting people to eat free if they couldn’t pay.
“People with no money welcome to eat free,” the sign read in English and French.
A man tested the policy and, finding it to be true, shared the sign on social media. Requests for free meals ramped up.
Before long, the duo was giving away as many as 20 meals per day. Demand diminished as other restaurants followed their lead.
Meantime, some customers started giving a bit extra to help offset the costs of free meals.The offer came at the perfect time for 27-year-old Kris Begg. The struggling musician recalled how his mother sent him a link about the restaurant.
“I was having a tough time,” he said. “They gave me rice and meat and potatoes."There was no judgment, just goodwill."I’ve gone there three times,” he said. “I don’t go there everyday, I go maybe once a week. I don’t want to be the guy who’s always asking for free food. Get it when you really need it. It’s a great service. They are really nice; they don’t judge you.”