'I just want to do something good for the homeless and bring people all together,' Tabrizi tells PEOPLE

By Megan Kuharich
July 10, 2015 03:25 PM
Courtesy Michael Trabizi

Instead of offering a prix-fixe menu to local foodies, one Baltimore restaurant owner has decided to feed the homeless during Restaurant Week.

Michael Tabrizi, owner of Tabrizi s restaurant, opted out of Baltimore s Restaurant Week, which will take place from July 20 to 25, to instead partner with local homeless shelters and feed those in need.

An encounter with a homeless person while stopped at a red light one night inspired Tabrizi to take action.

“I saw a guy at a traffic light with the sign, ‘I’m hungry, I will work for food,’ ” Tabrizi tells PEOPLE. “I couldn t just pass him. I gave him my business card and told him to come to my restaurant when it s open for a free meal. I kept driving and asked myself, ‘What about the others?’ ”

Tabrizi s eatery serves Mediterranean cuisine “from the Middle East all the way to Spain – lamb, sardines, falafel, you name it,” he says. However, the Israeli native is taking a different approach to his menu for Restaurant Week.

Tabrizi says he will serve Cordon Bleu with sage cream and salad on fine china, sparking apple cider in a champagne flute and ice cream in a waffle cup for dessert.

“I think these people are really forgotten,” he says. “Nobody looks them in the eye anymore. These people lost everything, but that doesn t make them less human than others. I like to help them by feeding them. I don t think they are hungry for nourishment, but more mental nourishment. They just need somebody to talk to them.”

Tabrizi is not sure if other restaurants will join him in helping to feed the homeless, but he says he’s gotten positive feedback during the past few weeks.

“I’m excited just to see the faces of these people,” he adds. “My staff is overwhelmed by the experience. They were offered to get paid [and] most of them declined. I have received hundreds of emails from all around the world – Africa, Europe, Russia, Iran, Middle East and South America. Everybody is wishing good things.”