At past events, the group has ordered pizzas to be delivered fresh throughout the day, in addition to side dishes provided by community members. But this Memorial Day, their usual pizza place dropped the ball on their order, and the volunteers and emergency workers were left in the lurch.
“At 11:30 it was starting, and the first round of pizzas was supposed to be delivered, and there we were with all those officers and no pizza,” said Judith Parmelee of the MBWC, who helped organize the event.
Parmelee called the pizza company, which had been reliable for past events, but it had no record of her order. More than a dozen workers were now waiting for food. Then Parmelee remembered a conversation she had had that morning with Johnny Leal, vice president of operations for the Wave House in Belmont Park. Leal had helped organizers set up for the event earlier that morning and had mentioned that the Wave House might be able to provide food at a future event, Parmelee said. That request came sooner than he expected.
“Instantly [we] were on the phone talking to him. We said, ‘here’s the situation’ and he called back and said, ‘Here’s what we are going to do,’” Parmelee said.
Leal immediately had his kitchen staff start making hamburgers, a quick solution for the dozen emergency personnel already in line, and he instructed his chef to continue to make pizzas throughout the day.
“He brought their chef over and said ‘This is our chef, you tell him whatever you need and you got it,’” Parmelee said. “And that guy personally was cooking and delivering all day, and then he would even call me and say, ‘How’s your supply? How are you doing? Do you need more?’ They were just really on top of it. And then he refused to take any money for it! He said, ‘No, we want to do our share, and we’re glad we could help.’ He really saved the day.”
Leal was humble about the experience.
“It was just about being a good neighbor and doing the right thing and supporting the community,” he said. “It was a no-brainer to me.”