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'It's just the right thing to do, man': Big Al's BBQ offers free meals to those in need

Owner of Big Al's, Al Laudencia, tells the story of his love for BBQ, experiencing homelessness and the importance of offering a place of rest and community.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Big Al's BBQ was born out of a hobby and love for food. For owner Al Laudencia, his restaurant offers an opportunity to provide more than just BBQ to customers. 

Hanging on the front door is a sign offering free meals and drinks to those who need it, no questions asked.

"There was a dark period of time in my life where I was homeless. And I was in the throes of addiction. I remember what it was like in a July, it being so hot. I didn't have any money to me," Laudencia said. 

It was that experience that made him want to offer relief to those who find themselves in a similar situation.

"I was there in your shoes. And you don't have to live your life that way. But it's OK for today," he said. "We can just break bread and have a drink, man. I'll give you something to drink." 

Laudencia said offering a place of community, providing relief and serving some good BBQ was just something he wanted to do for his community. 

 "And that's when I put the sign up," he said. "It's just the right thing to do, man."

If you are looking for your next meal, you can find Big Al's BBQ at 1960 Grand Avenue in West Des Moines. 


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