Federal employees receive free lunch from Boston restaurant

As the government shutdown drags on, several local businesses, including Pauli’s in the North End, are offering special deals for federal employees affected.

Pauli’s owner Paul Barker served up free lunch Monday to any federal employee with an ID.

“My heart went out to them and I wanted to do something and I said, ‘You know, what? Just gonna give them free lunch,'” Barker said. “Do something nice. Make them feel good.”

Barker said he just wanted to do his part to ease the burden for workers who aren’t being paid.

“It’s the longest shutdown we’ve ever had,” Barker said. “It’s difficult.”

Barker’s kindness has resonated with his customers, too.

“I think it’s really, really nice,” said Department of Justice employee Mia Hwang. “I know there are a lot of people who are struggling with their bills and struggling with things. I’m really lucky I have savings to live off of, but I think this is a really sweet thing.”

Financial advisor Chuck Zodda said he has heard from people worried about what is next.

“I’ve talked to a number of them who are saying, ‘We’re pretty stretched,'” Zodda said.

Zodda said people should try to save enough for six months, but adds that many don’t. He also suggests cutting back on fixed expenses to save small amounts here and there.

“If you’re talking things like cellphones, if you’re talking cable and internet service, take a look and see if you can shop for a cheaper alternative,” Zodda said. “Not so much that it’s going to put money in your pocket, but maybe slow the bleed a little bit.”

In the meantime, the owner of Pauli’s said he hopes that his efforts inspire other businesses around the city. He also said that he is considering making free lunches a regular thing for the restaurant as the shutdown continues.

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