The New York Diner Owner Laurie Conover recently donated meals to workers at local fire stations.

By Karin Davis-Thompson

It started with a conversation with employees at a few of his favorite community restaurants. It ended with four small businesses making a difference for first responders.

A local resident got together with four of his favorite restaurants to provide a free meal to first responders firehouses in the Brandon/Valrico area. He said that since the pandemic, fire stations are getting a record number of calls in addition to their usual call volume and it was important for them to know they were appreciated.

“I wanted to use locally owned restaurants,” he said. “It was something I had been thinking about. I just chose four places that I frequent and when I told them what I wanted to do they all said yes.”

The restaurants provided food over three days to make sure all three shifts at the fire stations got a meal. Laurie Conover, owner of The New York Diner in Valrico, said donating meals was just a small way to say thank you to first responders for working to keep us safe and healthy.

“They are on the front lines, protecting us,” she said. “They have families themselves, they can’t go home because they are keeping us safe. This was the least we can do. We just wanted to give them a home-cooked meal.”

The firehouses had the chance to dine on everything from wings to the special of the day.

The original Beef ‘o’ Brady’s, on Kings Ave. in Brandon, provided wings to Fire Rescue – Stations 11 and 33.

Keith’s Oaks Bar & Grill, a family-owned restaurant on Lithia Pinecrest Rd., donated wings to Fire Rescue – Station 18.

The New York Diner allowed its first responders from Fire Rescue – Station 36 to select from the menu.

And, finally, Three Bulls Tavern & Brewery in Valrico donated the day’s special to its fire stations, 7 and 27.

Conover, who has been in business for 10 years, said it made her feel good to give back and she was happy to see how happy she made them.

“They were very thankful,” she said. “We put smiles on faces, fed bellies and hopefully they got a good night’s sleep.”