Army Officer turned cafe owner's kind idea to help the needy during pandemic

After trading in bullets for bagels, Queensland man Michael Lorrigan hasn’t forgotten the lessons he learned in the military.

He now works as Managing Director of café-chain The Two 14 Group – named after his former regiment – and is using his new career to help others in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Through his cafes, Mr Lorrigan is helping locals provide meals for frontline healthcare workers and those struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic through his aptly-named 'No One Left Behind' initiative.

Michael Lorrigan, his partner and co-founder of Café Two 14 with their staff. Photo Credit: Michael Lorrigan/Café Two 14

The former Army Officer and Afghanistan veteran started the initiative after seeing a Facebook post written by somebody who was having trouble buying food after paying the rent.

“It was at that moment I realised we weren't doing it as tough as other people, so we thought to ourselves what can we do to try and help those doing it tougher than us?” Mr Lorrigan told Yahoo News Australia.

The initiative is based on the old military saying, ‘no man left behind,’ but Mr Lorrigan says it's all about being inclusive of everybody.

“It's like a pay it forward program.”

“Essentially, people can very simply get on to our website, purchase a meal, that gets a basic food item and drink.”

“We hand it over to anyone who would like to claim it,” he said.

While the social distancing rules that have been in place for months have significantly impacted the business, Mr Lorrigan and the Café Two 14 team are still paying it forward regardless of the downturn.

“It was just so out of our hands.”

“For us as business owners, you have a plan and that doesn’t include a pandemic,” he said.

Café Two 14 is named after Mr Lorrigan’s former unit, the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment where he served as an Australian Armoured Corps Officer for almost a decade.

Michael Lorrigan while on deployment in the Middle East as an Australian Army Officer. Photo Credit: Michael Lorrigan/ADF

In honour of Café Two 14’s namesake and its link to Mr Lorrigan’s former military career, he has ensured that his small business also has ongoing initiatives in place that gives back to help Australian military veterans and their families.

“Café Two 14 is named after the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, and their motto was ‘forward’, so we’ve adopted that.

“We’ve pushed that out to be, ‘helping veterans move forward’,” he said.

“We have had the opportunity to work with veteran charity organisations, mainly focused on veteran mental health and we use our ability as a commercial business to donate as much money as possible.”

After the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant downturn in business for Café Two 14, Mr Lorrigan’s old mates in the Australian Defence Force community didn’t think twice about supporting their favourite coffee joint.

“Especially in the last couple of months, with the pandemic that has come through, the Defence guys have really rallied around the business,” Mr Lorrigan said.

“All the way through to [some of the guys] calling me up and saying... ‘Hey, look if you need a hand, give me a call and I'll pop in there to wash dishes, you don't have to pay me’.”

For more details about how you can help those in need in the Brisbane area, visit the Café Two 14 website, their Facebook page, or Instagram page.

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