Thursday 28 March 2024

Brian Ingram: Generosity is the First Bite, not the Last

Posted by at 9:23 AM

Brian Ingram: Generosity is the First Bite, not the Last

Considering himself as the "world's worst student," Brian Ingram's mom put him in a culinary program at the age of 14. By the age of 18, he left his home state of Alaska with a passion for the culinary world, working in restaurants as a chef, traveling from San Francisco to New York, and Singapore to Paris.

Brian moved to Minnesota from New York in 2012 and started New Bohemia and Truck Park on West Seventh Street in Saint Paul. After a career spent in corporate restaurants, he had the desire to truly give back to the community. In 2019, he had a vision to open a breakfast bar with an elevated brunch experience and truly put love on a plate.

“Crazy how God leads us sometimes…We found this old firehouse in Saint Paul. We didn’t know a lot about it but when we did a deep dive, trying to find a name of this restaurant, we found out it was called Hope Engine Company 3 built by volunteers. It just had everything we could ever dream of,” Ingram said.

The stars couldn’t have aligned better, and Hope Breakfast Bar was born. Believing everything good starts with a meal, Brian is focused on helping others every day – bringing the community together to provide support and serve those in need.

“I think we said publicly from the beginning we give 3% of sales away, we’ve since gotten rid of that because it’s been much more than that. We just give whatever it is that we can give,” Brian said.

After 6 months of business running smoothly, the world faced an abrupt change of chaos and uncertainty due to Covid. Schools were closing and kids weren’t getting meals – so Brian posted on Social Media that any family in need, he’d prepare a hot meal for them. Within 24 hours, there were 10,000 requests. He didn’t think there was the bandwidth to pull it off, but much to his surprise…another divine intervention.

From volunteers to semi-trucks filled with food, and random monetary donations, Hope Breakfast Bar huddled the community to feed children, frontline healthcare, and law enforcement workers, and those less fortunate.

“So many people give us accolades, but it’s not us. It’s this amazing community of people and I think many times people don’t know how to help, but they want to walk beside you and join…God worked in our community. This tiny little restaurant called Hope fed hundreds of thousands of people, gave away millions of pounds of food…it is impossible without miracles,” Brian said.

Coming from a family of military, fire, and police professions, Brian wanted to get involved to help the families of the three Burnsville officers that were killed in the line of duty. Eagan’s Hope Breakfast Bar location donated the $20,000 raised during a fundraiser to the families of the fallen first responders. People lined up and waited for hours to get a seat.

“How do we make sure that everybody, not just today and tomorrow, understand they are servants out there, and that they are putting it on the line every single day for us. If I have a bad day and someone left a crappy yelp review of my restaurant…these guys don’t come home. That’s a powerful thing. That’s the ultimate sacrifice, they gave their life for you,” Brian said.

Hope Breakfast Bar is spreading throughout the state. They are located in Saint Paul, Eagan, Saint Louis Park, Gilette Children’s Hospital, with two more locations under construction in Edina and Woodbury. Giving is truly the heart of what they do.

“You don’t give because it’s easy. You give when it’s hard. We believe that generosity is the first bite, not the last,” Brian said.

To listen to the full podcast interview, click here!