Restaurateur who provided free meals to NHS workers made MBE

A Glasgow restaurateur who gave out free meals to NHS workers and vulnerable people during lockdown has been made an MBE.

David Maguire, 62, said his first customers on the first day of lockdown – nurses from the Beatson Cancer Centre at Gartnavel Hospital – inspired him to help out during the pandemic.

They visited his West End restaurant 1051 GWR for lunch as all their usual places had been forced to close, including the hospital canteen.

When Mr Maguire and head chef Steven Caputa served the nurses, he said: “We looked at each other and went we just can’t charge them. We’re just making pizza and pasta but these girls were risking their lives to keep going with their patients, so we thought we’ll just give it to them.”

That started a movement which saw the restaurant make more than 800 free meals daily for the next 11 weeks, during which time he lived in his garage as his wife was shielding.

While they initially started helping NHS workers have a hot meal every day, food was also given to the homeless and families in need.

He set up a fundraising campaign with £10,000 of his own money, which raised more than £68,000.

Mr Maguire said: “The restaurant kind of changed from a restaurant to a massive food production centre.”

He said he is “really pleased” to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, but stressed it was a team effort and without Mr Caputa and employee Melody Whitley he “wouldn’t have lasted a week”.

Mr Maguire said: “If Steven hadn’t been enthusiastic and determined none of this could’ve happened.

“It was really his ability as a chef and his skill as a chef.

“When you turn round to a Michelin star chef and say how many dinners can you do, and they normally do about 40 a night.

“When you say can you do 1,500 a day, most would say no. It’s a completely different set of skills and not many people have them, and he’s fantastic.”

Meanwhile, “one woman army” Ms Whitley did not take a day off during lockdown to ensure she could source enough food.

He said: “She goes around supermarkets picking up the surplus, she goes round all the manufacturers, she brings stuff to us to transform into meals, she delivers stuff from us to all the hostels in Glasgow.”

Mr Maguire also said he would have been lost without his wife Veronica.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us during this time, ensuring that the elderly, vulnerable, school…

Posted by 1051 GWR on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

“She was shielding so I had to live in our garage for 11 weeks,” he said. “And for 11 weeks, my wife made sure that I got a breakfast, and a dinner and kept the place warm for me and tidy and did absolutely everything so that I could spend my time out and about.

“Without her support I wouldn’t have lasted more than a few days.

“If somebody is really looking after you and making sure that you’re comfortable and well fed, you can go for a very long time.

“When you’re working with people who are motivated like that, for whom nothing is difficult or a problem, or are in a pretty good mood all the time, it’s kind of easy to do this stuff.

“You get caught up in a wee adrenaline buzz and you’re riding the wave with it.

“The fact that there are good people out there who are helping you along and motivating you, we could easily see that in the NHS staff.”