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First-class lunch offered for responders and contractors

By Staff | Sep 20, 2017

Thistle Lodge Sous Chef Ricardo Goncalves prepared hamburgers Thursday afternoon for responders and contractors. MEGHAN McCOY

Local businesses banded together Thursday afternoon to feed those who have been working tirelessly to get the community back up and running after Hurricane Irma.

“We just feel really fortunate to have been spared a direct hit from the hurricane and we really can’t say thanks to these guys enough.” said Casa Ybel GM, Froilan “JR” Ramirez in a prepared statement.

Chefs of the Thistle Lodge at Casa Ybel Resort served lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14 in the rear parking lot of Bailey’s General Store.

William Hopkins with Sanibel Plumbing was one of the many that stopped by for a bite to eat.

“It shows they care,” Hopkins said about the free lunch Thursday.

Moises Jimenez, Elvis Vergara, Emmanuel Jimenez, William Hopkins and Marion Gonzalez of Sanibel Plumbing enjoyed the first-class lunch Thursday afternoon. MEGHAN McCOY

He said it also shows that there is a lot of respect both ways, that Sanibel Plumbing and Thistle Lodge are a necessity for one another.

He said the crew arrived back on the island Wednesday and are taking care of emergencies first and prioritizing the remaining calls as more people come back on the island and assess their damage.

Sanibel Plumbing offers both electrical and plumbing services.

Executive Chef John Wolfe said since they knew everyone was working in the hot sun and hungry from the manual labor, it only made sense to make food for the responders and contractors.

Sous Chef Jamie Crisp said they needed to clear out their coolers and get rid of as much food as they could, resulting in the cookout Thursday afternoon.

Thistle Lodge Sous Chef Jamie Crisp and Executive Chef John Wolf. MEGHAN McCOY

Casa Ybel Resort Food and Beverage Director Michael Allen said although the resort’s power came back on Thursday morning, they wanted to keep with their plan of feeding the contractors and responders because there were not enough people doing that for people.

“Even though we could have saved the food, why not feed them?” Allen said.

He said the effort felt good, especially when noticing people were doing a little “two stepping” with the music that was playing.

The effort was a “tag team” kind of effort, as Wolfe, Crisp and Allen were transporting what was needed between the two locations.

“It’s a tag team to make sure everyone gets fed,” Allen said.

Thistle Lodge Sous Chef Mario Martinez prepared chicken sandwiches with cheese. MEGHAN McCOY

Casa Ybel Resort Event Manager Tori Weatherford said they are grateful for everyone doing their part to get the island going again.

“We thought we would do our part,” she said of feeding those working so hard to make it happen.

Sous Chefs Mario Martinez and Ricardo Goncalves took turns on the grill and preparing the food for those who stopped by. They served hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwiches and bratwurst.

About 30 minutes after they began serving lunch, Weatherford said they had a good amount of police officers, plumbers and landscaping crews stop by for a bite to eat.

Since the community did not have full electricity as of Thursday afternoon, Weatherford said calls were made the night before to the heads of the companies on the island letting them know that lunch was being served. Signs were also out on the roads.

She said while she was out and about, she stopped and let the crew members know that lunch was being offered at Bailey’s.

“Partnering with Bailey’s has been a huge benefit. They provided the tent, location, tables and filled our gas needs for the grill,” she said.

Bailey’s was one of the first businesses on the island to reopen Tuesday morning.

“These guys have been working a long, long time. Some of them have been working upward of 16 days straight to restore power after Harvey and now they are on our side of the Gulf for Irma. This is really just a small way for us to say thanks for all that they have done to get our island back up and going.” Bailey’s General Store owner Richard Johnson said in a prepared statement.