ODU Alum, Perfectly Frank Team Up to Get Food to People During Pandemic
April 17, 2020
If you're an Old Dominion University football fan, you may remember Satchel Ziffer. If you can't quite place him, his 10 minutes of fame occurred in 2014, when the walk-on came off the bench to kick last-second, game-winning field goals against Florida International and Florida Atlantic.
His two boots allowed the Monarchs to finish 6-6 in their first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the NCAA's highest level of football.
Ziffer spent just two years at ODU; the junior college transfer from Lancaster, Pa., graduated in 2016. He's since earned a master's degree in finance from the University of Colorado and has done well financially working as a stock and hedge fund consultant in Los Angeles and Denver.
But those two years at ODU made a big impression. When he looked for a way to help feed hungry children and others suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he started a Go Fund Me page to help people in Norfolk.
He hooked up with Perfectly Frank, a restaurant in the Monarch Way section of ODU's campus. Tarah Morris, owner and operator of the restaurant, is using the donations to deliver meals at a reduced price to the hungry.
This past week she delivered 34 meals to Hope Village, a homeless housing facility in Norfolk, and 50 meals to the FourKids charity program thanks to Ziffer's Go Fund Me page. Hundreds more will be delivered in the coming weeks, Morris said.
Ziffer promoted the fund on social media and got things started with a $100 donation. The fund has begun modestly, accruing nearly $2,000 so far.
"I just want to help, especially those really in need," he said.
Ziffer's parents run a small business in Pennsylvania Dutch country, and he reached out to Perfectly Frank because it is also a small business.
Like many other restaurant owners, Morris is struggling to make ends meet on just takeout orders. She's also exhausted from the extra workload.
She has three children at home and her husband, Sean, works long hours in the training office for the Norfolk Fire Department. Nonetheless, she's doubled her hours to about 60 per week.
"I could probably give more hours to other people, but I work for free," she said, adding that she hasn't had to lay off any cooks or waitresses.
"How am I doing? I don't really know. I've been moving so fast because we've been in survival mode. I think we're going to be OK, but you just don't know anything for sure at this point."
Her eatery specializes in American comfort food, from hamburgers and hot dogs (hence the name), French fries, barbecue, tuna melts and fried chicken.
She has developed close ties with many at ODU, including Athletic Director Wood Selig and athletic donor Ray Wittersheim, who sits in the same seat for dinner before every men's and women's basketball game.
"Everyone knows that's Ray's seat," she said. Wittersheim donated $250 to Ziffer's fundraiser.
Selig ran into Morris two weekends while taking an early morning walk.
"She's part of the ODU community," Selig said. "I'm so glad that Satchel stepped up to help and that he did it with Tarah."
Others have stepped up as well. Lynnhaven River Now, a group dedicated to restoring the Lynnhaven River, purchased 40 meals for emergency room nurses at Sentara Norfolk General. The Next, a private apartment complex where many ODU students live, is sponsoring meals for nurses at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters.
Morris even got a $200 check from her ex-husband's aunt that fed 25 of the homeless at the Samaritan House.
She said that takeout service at many Monarch Way restaurants is bringing people together.
"I see families pull up in cars, pick up their food and park and talk to each other while they eat," she said. "That's a safe way to interact with people you care about. It's the next-best thing to going to a restaurant. It's good to see people enjoy a little normalcy."
Ziffer said he hopes more people step up to help restaurants and feed people in Hampton Roads.
"The hospitality industry is such a big part of the area's economy," he said. "So many restaurant workers are losing their jobs. How are they supposed to feed their families?
"If you're in a position to help, please do what you can."
To reach Perfectly Frank, call 757-440-1020.