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Gumbo—and Ice Cream and BBQ—for the Soul

In the eye of the recovery, Fort Myers restaurants and chefs rose to the occasion.



Chef-owner Mike Catalan of A Cajun Bowl was one of the first people on the ground handing out free soup.

Yes, Marco Island and Naples bore the brunt of Irma’s wrath, but it has been a power-outage, gas-shortage and logistics-challenged lined road to normalcy for all of Southwest Florida.

Lee County fought back ferociously, with many restaurants and businesses coming to life well inside a week—but what has really stuck out is how philanthropic eateries have been post-Irma.

Here is a short list of how various people and places have helped out.

  • Scoops on First: All of its ice cream was donated before the storm hit to hospital staff and volunteers.
  • Salty Papa’s Shrimp House: When it realized power was out for the long haul, it donated all of its seafood to local families.
  • Lee Roy Selmon’s: It cooked its entire inventory and gave it away to those who needed it.
  • Jonesez BBQ: On the ground in the immediate aftermath, it handed out its grilled and smoked meats to anyone who could use the pick-me-up.
  • A Cajun Bowl: It made jumbo pots of gumbo for relief workers—emergency personnel, linemen, servicemen and volunteers.
  • Cru: Not only did chef Bob Boye volunteer on the ground, but he’s also donating free meals throughout September to any relief worker who steps in.
  • Society: This new restaurant is not even open yet in the Bell Tower Shops, but its chef de cuisine cooked a gourmet meal for more than 300 people at the Dr. Carrie D. Robinson Center in Dunbar.  
  • Purple Spoon Culinary: Chef Kristina San Filippo hosted two “Community Dinners” where anyone was invited in for a healthy meal and serene respite.
  • Thistle Lodge: The chefs set up shop in Bailey’s to give food to first responders and service people.
  • The Bagel Factory: Not only did it donate inventory pre-impact to emergency personnel; it made donations to first responders and police post-Irma.
  • King’s Kitchen: It hosted a dinner for power company workers.
  • Norman Love Confections: Free coffee was poured for linemen.
  • Millennial Brewing Co.: The brewery was handing out filtered water and set up charging stations when it reopened.
  • Tijuana Flats: The chain (with several locations in Lee and more than 120 nationally) donated 10 percent of ALL proceeds to Irma relief Sept. 15-17 as well as food to shelters and relief workers throughout Florida.

For Collier County meals with purpose, click here.

 

 

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