Restaurant Owner Serves Over 1,000 Hot Meals to California First Responders

 

When evacuation orders came for restaurateur Marco Gonzalez Tavern 101 Grill & Tap House, he quickly closed his restaurant, but knew he wasn't leaving. The Woolsey Fire was quickly approaching his neighborhood in the Agoura Hills community near Los Angeles and he knew he wanted to help. 

Authorities gave Gonzalez and a handful of his staff at Tavern 101 Grill & Tap House permission to stay behind. They began cooking meals for firefighters and first responders, feeding more than 1,000 during the worst of fire conditions. 

"I told my people, I told them I wanted to open just to be here for police, firefighters and first responders," Gonzalez told CNN. "We weren't able to get any deliveries into the restaurant, so I'll go out and buy whatever I can."

Instead, Gonzalez began preparing meals with the food he had on hand with a team of four. Now, customers are coming in to volunteer to help feed the hungry firefighters out on the front lines. 

Gonzalez's sister-in-law, Lyndsay McDougal Cannon opened a Venmo page where people can donate to the police departments, fire stations in the area and a Woolsey Fire relief fund. More than $45,000 was raised in three days. 

For his part, Gonzalez didn't think much about staying behind. He said he just figured the firefighters needed a place to eat a warm meal. 

"What they're doing is putting themselves in harm's way and we have to do whatever we can to help."

As of Wednesday morning, the Woolsey Fire in Southern California's Los Angeles and Ventura counties had burned at least 97,000 acres and destroyed 453 structures. That number is expected to rise as officials get a better assessment on damage in the area. 

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