Restaurants offer support in wake of Dallas officer slayings

Chains, independents deliver meals and raise funds

A number of restaurant companies and independent eateries stepped up to feed Dallas police officers and federal investigators in the wake of Thursday night’s attack that left five law enforcement officers dead and seven others wounded.

The outpouring of generosity threatened to overwhelm some police precincts, participants said. And the assistance extended geographically far beyond Texas as other restaurant brands offered law enforcement officers and their families free meals.

With about 16 blocks of downtown Dallas still cordoned off Monday as a crime scene, brands from Dallas-based Brinker International Inc. and Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants Inc. were catering meals to working police investigators

At El Centro College, where the sniper Micah Xavier Johnson was killed in an adjacent parking garage, law enforcement officers were being fed meals provided by Brinker’s Maggiano’s Little Italy and Chili’s Grill & Bar, Darden’s Season’s 52, Olive Garden and Capital Grille, Dallas-based Which Wich and Dallas-based Firebird Restaurant Group’s Meso Maya.

Steve DeShazo, director of the Food and Hospitality Institute at El Centro, said the downtown campus would remain closed through the week, but the institute’s dining room was open to feed investigators.

“There was an outpouring of offers,” said DeShazo in a Facebook message exchange.

A Brinker spokesperson said the company on Friday and throughout the weekend provided meals to police precincts and other officers securing the downtown crime scene, which covered more than 20 city blocks.

“Our hearts are heavy for our hometown and our community,” the spokesperson said in a statement. Four of the slain officers were from the Dallas Police Department and one was from Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

“Any officer that dined at our Dallas restaurants received a meal on us,” the Brinker spokesperson said. “We are committed to making people feel special in any way we can during this time of grief for the Dallas community.

Darden Restaurants also provided meals in June after shootings in Orlando, Fla., where it is headquartered, left 49 people dead and wounded more than 50 at the Pulse nightclub.

The outpouring of food and generosity was so large that some police precincts were being inundated during the weekend.

Brian Luscher, owner of the Grape Restaurant and Luscher's Red Hots in Dallas, told the Dallas Observer that "they have much more than they need and a line of people waiting to give more. … And now the department is inundated with excess food, which their efforts are better utilized doing their duties rather than buffet management.”

Luscher added: “This is in no way meant to be a scolding, just tap the brakes generous citizens and businesses of Dallas!"

A broad swath of restaurants were offering assistance.

“Open your doors, serve food, give money to the families,” restaurateur Jack Perkins, owner of The Slow Bone and Maple and Motor, told the Dallas Morning News.

The goodwill toward law enforcement officers extended far beyond North Texas.

Portsmouth, N.H.-based Margaritas Mexican Restaurants said, “Any member of town, county, state or federal law enforcement along with their immediate family members may eat for free” at any of its 25 locations throughout New England and Pennsylvania July 9 through 13.

Dallas restaurateurs, meanwhile, were planning a special event for July 31 to raise funds to help families of the slain officers.

Organizers Katherine Clapner, owner of Dude Sweet Chocolate, and Sharon Van Meter, president of SVM Productions and immediate past chair of Greater Dallas Restaurant Association, said the proceeds would go to officer families and community outreach.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless


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