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  • Writer's pictureCherie Claire

Being Thankful Meant Giving Back—a Lesson for Us All

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving

I've been writing about a very special member of the Lafayette, La., community for years — and for good reason.

Ema Haq came to Lafayette from Bangladash to study mechanical engineering, working his way through the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) in the area's many restaurants. He liked his new profession in food service so much he stayed in Louisiana, eventually opening up Bailey's Seafood and Grill.

Bailey's has received many culinary awards over the years and Haq was named the "Restaurateur of the Year" by the Louisiana Restaurant Association. And although the Lafayette community loves the food of Bailey's, they also appreciate Haq's generous nature.

Every Thanksgiving Haq serves up a Thanksgiving meal to those who can't otherwise afford one and he treats his guests like paying customers, with white tablecloths and service as usual. He doesn't want anyone to feel like they've been given charity, he said.

For the homebound, he delivers meals to their homes.

The first time he opened his restaurant, Haq served 200 meals on Thanksgiving day. It's now closer to 700.

Want to learn more? Here's a story on Haq by the Louisiana Restaurant Association.

Every Thanksgiving, it's easy to give thanks to the loved ones around our tables. I always think of Ema Haq and am thankful our country welcomes generous men (and women) who give back in beautiful ways. Ema Haq is now a pillar citizen of Lafayette, serving folks today in his 31st annual luncheon, but what a gift America received from Bangladash.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I had the pleasure of celebrating my last birthday with my mom at Ema's Cafe, the restaurant next door to Bailey's, also owned by Ema Haq. We took this lopsided photo inside Bailey's. That's me with my mom LilyB in blue and scarf, her caregiver Judy in green (both who are sadly no longer with us) and my crazy sister Da'non in brown, at right.

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