This past Sunday, the country was rocked by senseless tragedy yet again when a 19-year-old man opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, injuring 12 people and killing six-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby. While the nation mourns and processes this and keeps the victims and their loved ones in our thoughts, there are signs of hope to help us stand strong together. The team at Straw Hat Pizza rolled up their sleeves and got to work feeding first responders and victims.
Straw Hat Pizza’s owner Raj Nayyar told KQED that he was home trying to comprehend what he had just heard about the shooting when his friend, Gilroy City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez called him asking if he could help out by bringing some food for first responders. (Nayyar was supposed to be at the festival to pick up a friend but the friend had left early, and Nayyar spent the time after learning of the shooting calling various friends and family members who were at the event to make sure they were all right.) Nayyar jumped into action. He called a friend, who posted a call for help on Facebook, and soon, about a dozen people were hard at work making pizza, wings, and salads in Straw Hat’s kitchen. Throughout the night and all day on Monday, they brought food to first responders and victims’ families.
Nayyar and his friends and family helped feed the people working to save lives as well as the families enduring one of the hardest nights of their lives as they waited for updates on their loved ones. Straw Hat Pizza provided a vital service and in doing so, were an example of the good people do especially in times of need. The team was also living proof of the idea that food is love. Nayyar doesn’t feel his work ended after Monday, either. According to KQED, the business owner wants the shop to continue to be a place of support for the community.
“Anybody that needs any food, our restaurant is open for everybody; first responders, family,” Nayyar said. “We’re gonna get through this as a family. Anybody that needs any gathering, we have private rooms," he said. "Whatever people need, we’re here."
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