It all started around Christmas of 2015, when the Adkins children were sitting around listing all the big-ticket items they wanted to find underneath the tree.
“My kids were acting like spoiled brats,” says Brandy Adkins. “They’d forgotten the meaning of the season.”
Adkins had opened Flo’s Burger Diner in Catoosa in 2014, and it had achieved some success. But, she decided, Christmas 2015 needed to be about teaching her children a life lesson instead of buying them a lot of presents.
So that year, Adkins opened her restaurant on Christmas and gave free meals to anyone who showed up. Her kids joined her and helped with the work.
Other than a few months during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, Adkins and her family have managed to continue “Flo’s Free Family Meal” every month for the past six years.
On Sunday night, the Adkins family was cooking and serving again at the Flo’s Burger Diner location at 11th Street and Birmingham Avenue in Tulsa. Something different is served every month. Sometimes it is fried chicken or spaghetti, but this night, it was breakfast for dinner — scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, sausage, fried potatoes and fruit.
As the line formed outside, Kylie Adkins, now 12 years old, and her older brother, Hayden, 14, arranged bags of supplies on the counter for anyone who needed them. The bags contained soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, feminine hygiene products, a lollipop and an assortment of pencils and little prizes for the kids.
There’s no proof of need required, no names taken, no questions asked. Anyone who shows up can get a meal. And the demand is increasing.
“We used to get 50 to 60 people, but lately we’re closer to 350 people,” Adkins said. She estimates that 80% are repeat customers.
As Sunday night came to a close, Adkins reported that 385 people ate breakfast for dinner at her restaurant.
She says she preferred it when people could sit down in the restaurant and eat a hot meal off a plate, but due to pandemic precautions, many people take their meals to go.
The next “Flo’s Free Family Meal” will be in three weeks and will be announced on Facebook and social media. Donations to the monthly meal can be made through Paypal firstname.lastname@example.org or CashApp $flosplates, or they can be dropped off at the restaurant at 2604 E. 11th in Tulsa.