‘The Island Needs Help’: Popular Chef, South Philadelphia Restaurant Team Up To Help Puerto Rico Recover From Devastating Earthquakes

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two years ago, it was Hurricane Maria and now, a flurry of earthquakes. As Puerto Rico struggles to recover, people in our area came together tonight to raise money and show they care.

Maria Mercedes Grubb was supposed to cook an extravagant four-course meal this weekend during a trip to Philadelphia as part of our city’s version of Octavitas, a well-known Puerto Rican Christmas celebration.

But Mother Nature had other plans when a 6.4-magnitude earthquake rocked Puerto Rico on Jan. 7.

‘Thought House Was Going To Fall’: Roxborough Native Among Many Jarred By 6.4 Earthquake In Puerto Rico

“I was sleeping so it was very jarring,” Grubb said.

Now Grubb, a well-known Puerto Rican chef, and Christina Martinez, who owns the equally-popular South Philly Barbacoa, teamed up in an effort to help out those on the island.

“Do a pop-up and maybe make some money for the situation,” Grubb said.

It’s a limited four-night engagement with all of the proceeds — so far some $1,500 in just two days — going directly to victims.

Since Saturday, the tiny restaurant has been the place to dine in, despite the lengthy wait.

Even before the restaurant opened at 7 p.m., a line stretched down the block. Each and every one of the diners enjoyed a traditional Puerto Rican meal, with every bite helping out those on the island.

Nicolas Alvarado’s family lives near the epicenter of the quake and when he heard about the fundraiser, he knew where he was headed for dinner.

“We know the island needs help so it’s the best that we do what we can,” he said.

“People just want to help and we decided we would get here about a half-hour early because we knew it was going to be packed,” Wynne Carson said.

“You definitely feel that brotherly love, like everybody has responded very well — donations have been very generous. It’s just overwhelming,” Grubb said.

The fourth and final night is set for Tuesday. Doors open at 7 p.m. and stay open until the food runs out.