Tasty Ribs and Helping Hands: Mark BBQ Serves 170,000 Meals to Those in Need

Updated: Sep. 19, 2023

In addition to brisket burgers, this restaurant offers free meals and second chances

Darrell Langworthy has handed out more than 170,000 free meals.COURTESEY MARK BBQ LLC
Darrell Langworthy has handed out more than 170,000 free meals.

When Darrell Langworthy was growing up, Thanksgiving meant 30 neighbors sharing a potluck meal in the family driveway.

“My parents worked at a golf course. They’d invite all the workers to Thanksgiving dinner. They would never turn anybody away,” he says. “If there was a kid in the neighborhood who needed dinner, he got it.”

Today, Langworthy carries on the tradition at his restaurant in Colchester, Vermont, where a combination of barbecue and community service has made Mark BBQ a hot spot.

Colchester is a small town on the shores of Lake Champlain, just north of Burlington. Locals know Mark BBQ for its brisket burgers, pulled-pork sandwiches and Tex-Mex meatloaf.

For many, Mark BBQ is also a stop on the road to recovery. Enter: Recovery Kitchen, a program that brings former addicts into the kitchen to build service-industry skills. The effort was inspired by manager Casey DeGuise, who arrived with a troubled history and even more determination.

“He had been turned down for 35 jobs,” Langworthy says. “We said ‘Let’s take a chance,’ and he’s never let me down.”

Langworthy knows that a little help can go a long way. “I had a time when I was definitely drinking too much,” he recalls. Now, he offers others the support he once needed. He keeps a cooler by Mark BBQ’s front door with free food for anyone who wants it. He has handed out more than 170,000 free meals. But his favorite pastime is still watching full plates turn to dirty dishes.

“If we can pay the bills and staff, we’re happy,” says Langworthy. “If we can help the community, we’re happier.”

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest