Hot Dish

Gumbo—and Ice Cream and BBQ—for the Soul

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

BY September 26, 2017

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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