AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Tremaine Brown is the owner of Shi Lee’s BBQ and Soul Food, here in Amarillo. Additionally, Brown is a single father, a Panhandle native, and a University of Texas student-athlete graduate.
Aside from owning a well-known restaurant in town, Brown is known by many for his kind acts of generosity.
“The day that they were supposed to go back to school is the day I sprung into action,” said Brown.
He explained that he and his seven year old daughter, Shilah Brown, were the very first to start sacking up lunches. Soon after that, it became a family affair.
“I put on 400 hot dogs. I had purchased enough of other nonperishable items to make 400 lunches,” said Brown.
Brown then went to Facebook to share with the public that Shi Lee’s would be giving out free lunches until this was all over.
He continued, “That day we gave out 400 lunches and in a record amount of time, and we didn’t have enough for a few cars and so the next morning when I got up, I got to Sam’s and I spent every dime that I had.”
Then on Tuesday, they distributed food again. However, this time the family gave out 1,700 lunches in just three hours.
“It remained at that number for the next ten weeks throughout the pandemic… And we continued on for twenty-something-odd weeks, handing out free lunches to a tune of about 87,000 close to 90,000 lunches that we prepared for kids during this pandemic,” said Brown.
The funds for all these free community lunches almost always came directly out of Brown’s pocket.
Brown explained, “So I always saved my money and came up with some kind of way that I could use that money to save Shi Lee’s, but at the same time, put it back into the community.”
Thankfully, later in the pandemic other businesses began to donate to Brown and Shi Lee’s charitable events. Additionally, family and friends of Brown’s also began to donate their time and efforts.
Having done so many charitable events in a year filled with so much tension, challenge after challenge, and constantly not knowing what would be coming next, the biggest question for Tremaine Brown during our interview was simply: Why? What motivated Brown to look after so many in his community and the surrounding areas?
Brown’s answer was, “This little girl, right here, is the reason.”
He further explained, “I’m in charge of her life and it is way better to give than to receive, and for her to understand that there’s a lot of people that don’t have all the blessings that she has and it’s very important that… you know, my motto is ‘if you have more, you should do more.'”
However, 2020 was not the first year that Brown and his restaurant gave back to the community. Last school year, Shi Lee’s BBQ and Soul Food gave away over 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies.
Additionally, Brown is known for his annual events. Throughout the years, Brown has hosted events, such as Shi Lee’s BBQ’s Annual Christmas drive, along with the group’s Annual Trunk or Treat.
Brown shared that if the pandemic had not gotten in his way, he would have been able to host his city-wide Easter egg hunt.
For additional information about Shi Lee’s BBQ and Soul Food, check out their Facebook page.