Small Tacoma restaurant closes doors on Mother's Day to feed folks experiencing hard times

Instead of taking advantage of one of the busiest restaurant days of the year, one small Tacoma business is closing its doors to give back on Mother’s Day.

Shawn Tibbitts is the owner of Tibbitts at Fern Hill, a small restaurant in Tacoma. So small, they only have five tables; so small, they use camping stovetops to cook. 

However, he’s made a big impact.

In the four years his restaurant has operated, it has been featured on several "best of" lists. 

"That’s why when folks come here, it’s always a memory. I want to remember them," Tibbitts said.

The restaurant is so popular you cannot eat there without having a reservation. However, on one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants, Tibbitts will close his door to customers. 

That does not mean those camping stovetops will not be working hard, though.

"A memory of doing something for someone else is always the best memory," he said.

Tibbitts will wake up Sunday around 4 a.m. and get to work. He plans to make about 130 to-go meals that he will then give out for free to folks who are going through hard times.

He’s done this service every holiday since he’s been open, but Mother’s Day is always the most significant for him.

"I wanted to show her {Tibbitts’ mother} the place. I was super excited," said Tibbitts.

The day before Tibbitts’ mom was supposed to see his new business, she died in a car crash. Instead of paying for the restaurant, Tibbitts spent all of his money on his mother’s funeral service.

He thought his dream was over, but, unexpectedly, an old friend reached out to him and offered to help with the money needed to open his restaurant.

A few months into running the business, Tibbitts said he looked up at a picture of his mom, which hangs in the restaurant, and felt inspired to give back to his community. On the business’s first Mother’s Day operating, Tibbitts began his tradition of giving back to the community.

"She’s up there watching, and I’m proud," he said.

All of the meals provided on Mother’s Day go to people who reached out to Tibbitts directly asking for help. 

He is all booked up for Sunday but does this kind of work during most holidays throughout the year. He says the next holiday he plans to provide this service is on Father’s Day.

For more information on Tibbitts at Fern Hill, click here.

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