Karma and kindness

In these tough and uncertain times, the team at Newy Burger Co are giving the community a little kindness, encouraging an outpouring of generosity in return.

Good karma. If anyone is clocking up some, it’s the team from Newy Burger Co who have been tirelessly helping out those in need, not just during the virus crisis, but for years now. Owners Ben Neil and Nick Vivian first opened their fun burger joint in July 2014 and have been a much-loved part of the Newcastle dining scene ever since.

Their burgers are juicy and packed with flavour, sitting at the top of many ‘best burger’ lists. From various locations – the Crown and Anchor Hotel, the Cambridge, the Grand Junction, even from a pop-up at Honeysuckle – they have kept the focus on our community through tasty comfort food and their philanthropic undertakings.

Located at 459 Hunter Street since 2016, burgers are named after Newcastle landmarks and locations – things that only a local would understand. Think the Bar Beef, the Stocko, the Dudley, or if you’re really hungry, the Pasha Bulker. “We have always been very community focused; Newcastle is a great town and very supportive of what we do,” said coowner Ben Neil.

Helping those in need

From the get-go, they have been invested in supporting community causes and charities through their Good Karma initiative. “Five-and-a-half years ago we were introduced to Kane Ransom who was battling leukaemia,” he said. “My little boy was about the same age as Kane. We wanted to do something to assist the Ransom family and came up with the idea of the Newy Burger Co Good Karma fundraising.

“It has been an important part of our business to help those in need. There are some families who are doing it pretty tough. Our Good Karma fundraising always has focused on supporting local families battling cancer and similar diseases; where possible we have reached out to support many other causes.”

Their efforts have raised more than $200,000 so far, through monthly burger specials, hosting events, karma kegs, raffles and auctions, raising muchneeded funds and priceless awareness.

“Our fundraising with the support of local businesses and our regulars has assisted the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and Newcastle families: the Ransoms with little Kane, the Danvers and their angel Caprice, Teddy (Andrew) who lost his battle with motor neurone disease, and little Evie who lost her mum Gabbie to cancer.”

Just like all restaurants and eateries across the country since March, they have had to deal with strict regulations on the serving of food, now only being able to provide takeaway meals or home delivery for their legion of customers.

A special kind of takeaway

While they’ve adapted well to this new world, Newy Burger Co have taken the challenge one step further. They haven’t just focused on their own survival, but the caring of those who have lost jobs and are facing financial and emotional hardship.

“We wanted to do something to help others,” Ben explained. “It started with soup and bread and in true Newcastle style people got behind it with donations and the kindness box evolved.”

The kindness boxes are packages with a few staples to keep people going when they need it most. Milk, bread, soup, bacon, eggs, fruit, toilet paper, hand sanitiser, plus baked treats or sweets. Local businesses and individuals jumped on board to donate money, sponsor a box or contribute goods to the project, including Earp Distilling Co, Produce 365, The Letter Q café, Just Been Laid, Port Stephens Packaging and so many more.

Even fellow restaurants that closed their doors brought their leftover produce to the Newy Burger Co kitchen so they could turn it into a wholesome meal. Others who were still open for trade wanted to show their support and contributed with baked goods and drinks.

“We had stock brought in from restaurants and cafes that have had to close, offers of help for people to come and make soup and then people bringing in pastries, treats and dinner to keep our crew going.”

Kindness helps all of us

The boxes are free, no questions asked, to those struggling. It’s provided the community with an outlet to give when they may not have known how. In a time when you can feel helpless yet want to help, this is where Newy Burger Co have really stepped up and become a conduit for the kindness of others.

“We have had so many people reach out to assist with the kindness boxes with donations of food, gifts, vouchers, money and other necessities to put smiles on families’ faces.” They have become a hub for kindness in the community. And they’ll keep fundraising through it all and keep the good karma flowing.

“We will continue to help Newcastle families and support local business through thick and thin; while we can still trade we will reach out to help others as much as possible.” As well as their actions, it’s the food they serve that can really bring a smile to your face. Or as Ben puts it: “To us, burgers are giant warm hugs.”

Story Judith Whitfield, photos courtesy of Newy Burger Co
Read more in the Winter issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.