A state-mandated shutdown hasn’t stopped local business owners in Belmar, New Jersey, from serving the community during the COVID-19 outbreak. While their dining rooms remain shuttered, Belmar restaurants are feeding hungry families with takeout and delivery service, and others are nourishing overwhelmed caregivers and essential workers in the fray of the fight against coronavirus.
At Jersey Shore BBQ, for example, owner Douglas Walsh has established the JSBBQ Hospital Workers Fund. Every dollar donated to the fund will be matched by the restaurant and used towards meals for health care workers “who are selflessly putting their own health on the line to save others,” according to Walsh.
“Seeing firsthand what the medical community is doing, we felt the need as business owners to support them in any way possible,” he says. “My partner and I asked what can we do, and we are honored to help those on the front lines of this awful virus.”
In the first 24 hours since announcing the fund, over $1,300 in donations and matching funds was raised to support the effort. Over 400 individual meals have already been prepared, according to the Jersey Shore BBQ Facebook page.
So far, Walsh has made deliveries to Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune City, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, and Ocean Medical Center in Brick. Make your pledge via @JSBBQ_HWF on Venmo.
“Mother Teresa said, ‘If you can’t feed 100 people, feed just one.’ Through the outpouring of support from this amazing community, we will be able to provide hot meals to the truest heroes in this fight: the medical community. We will feed them as long as they need a hot meal and as many as we can put out,” Walsh says.
Kate Heath, owner of Sweet Tease Tea Room, has channeled her energies into preparing comfort kits for the hard-working health care providers at area hospitals. After putting out a call for donations on her personal Facebook page, Walters set up a collection box outside Sweet Tease and assembled over 200 of the kits, which include lip balm, hand cream, tea, candy, and other comfort care items.
“I have a friend in the ER and a niece in the NICU,” says Heath. “They are reusing masks and working incredible hours. They have rashes on their faces, chapped lips, and raw hands. They don't have time for self-care. This is the only thing I could think to do. I thought it would be just a few, but the community has really stepped up with donations of product and money, so we keep making the kits.”
Bryan Morin, owner of Federico’s Pizza & Restaurant, first made national headlines in March after taking on $50,000 of debt to cover his payroll during the shutdown. Now, the restaurant that he runs with his brother Michael is cooking up a storm to take care of those who are taking care of us. Federico’s has prepared meals for the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and the night shift at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Federico’s has received almost $4,000 in donations to support these efforts, according to an Associated Press story.
The owner of Main Street Donuts, Joe Rizzuto, has been donating three doughnuts to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for every purchase of his special creation, the “Dr. Fauci Donut.”
Rizzuto came up with the idea as a tribute to Anthony Fauci, M.D., head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a member of the federal Coronavirus Task Force. Main Street Donuts has also been busy making deliveries of his customers’ donations of doughnuts to the medical center. RELATED: Enjoy A Handcrafted Treat At Main Street Donuts
On April 16, Brandl Restaurant owner and chef Chris Brandl prepared and served 140 hot meals to employees working at the Shop Rite market in Neptune, New Jersey. The meals consisted of buttermilk fried chicken, penne pasta, and salad.
In an interview with the Coast Star newspaper, Brandl stated: "I am very grateful that we have our customer base, which has given us the opportunity to make food for them, for us we are just going to snowball that into giving back to people who also are in need."
Antoinette Rose Boutique may be temporarily closed to help flatten the curve, but its owner and staff are using their talents to sew temporary masks for the caregivers at the Brandywine Living community in Brick Township. In addition, for purchases made at www.antoinetterose.com, Antoinette Rose Boutique will dedicate a portion of online sales to continue its mask-making mission for local hospitals.
"My friend who works in a nursing home told me that they were short on masks," says Antoinette Raucci, the boutique’s owner. "Since my store was forced to close, I decided it would be a great idea to have my staff make masks. I am concerned about my seamstresses financially, so I keep them employed. We are practicing social distancing and are wearing masks and gloves ourselves. I’m also delivering masks to some of my friends and their elderly parents. Our team has made and donated over 200 pieces of equipment so far."
Elsewhere, Hoagitos sandwich shop recently brought lunch to a grateful ICU staff at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. In addition to feeding hospital workers with donated meals, Simply Southern in Belmar is offering 50 percent off its entire menu to first responders and hospital employees (must show ID) on pickup/takeout orders only.
Since April 1, La Dolce Vita Italian restaurant has been serving what it calls "family meals" at no cost every Tuesday and Wednesday to Belmar neighbors in need. Family meal entrées vary daily and are posted the night prior on the La Dolce Vita Facebook page and Instagram feed. Orders may be placed on Tuesday or Wednesday from noon to 2:00 p.m. and picked up between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. that day. Contributions are not necessary but will be accepted for those who wish to pay. All contributions will be donated to the staff of the restaurant.
"Thank you,everyone, for shopping local, supporting local, and helping one another," says Raucci.
Story ©copyright by Christine Cardellino, owner of www.vacationinbelmar.com and publisher of the award-winning Belmar Beachcomber Blog, a travel and tourism guide for the Belmar region of the Jersey Shore. Photo credits to Federico's Pizza & Rstaurant, Kate Heath, and Doug Walsh. Do not copy any content (including images) without our permission. All rights reserved.