BYRAM TOWNSHIP, NJ – Hurricane Sandy hit Sussex County residents and businesses over two weeks ago, and, members of the community are still experiencing the wrath of the storm's aftermath.
In light of the harrowing Sandy experience, business owners Bradley and Laurie Boyle have reached back to give back to the community that has supported their business, Salt Gastropub on 109 US Highway 206 in Byram Township.
The restaurant will be the site of a Community Thanksgiving Dinner for members of the public who may have nowhere to go for the holiday, on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22, from noon until 3 p.m. Other area businesses including Andre’s Restaurant & Wine Boutique, All in the Icing, and Art Magic, will help with the effort.
Salt Gastropub itself was impacted during Hurricane Sandy, and was without power until Saturday, November 10. The restaurant was able to reopen its doors for dinner on Monday, November 12.
“The only way we stay alive is by the support of the community,” said Bradley Boyle during an interview with The Alternative Press. “We feel obligated to give back.”
Boyle said he and Laurie started the tradition when they owned bula in Newton, which the couple opened in 2001, and ran through 2008.
“In Newton there was a need,” said Boyle, and, bula would open its doors for those who were without a place to go for a meal on Thanksgiving Day. “We did that for years.”
Once the Boyles opened Salt in March of 2008, Boyle said the restaurant has done take out orders at their establishment on Thanksgiving. With Hurricane Sandy, the Boyles decided to revive the bula tradition this year.
“There are so many displaced, stressed out, financially stressed people that need this because of the storm,” Bradley Boyle said.
The meal is at no cost to attendees, and all Boyle is asking for, he said, is for attendees to bring food donations for the meal, which, Salt Gastropub has begun accepting. Items needed for the dinner include: turkeys, hams, stuffing, whole raw potatoes, and frozen vegetables.
Whatever unused food is left will be donated to area food pantries, and, unused leftovers will be donated to area soup kitchens, Boyle said.
Reservations will not be taken, Boyle added, and those without a place to go can just show up when they are able to, and without question, during the event hours.
Boyle reiterated nothing is for sale in their establishment on Thanksgiving Day, the bar is not open for business that day, and, alcohol will not be served or available at the dinner.
“We’re not open, there won’t be any money handled that day,” Boyle said.
The event is simply a way for Salt Gastropub, and other small businesses, to give back to the community.
One of Salt Gastropub’s other culinary partners for the day is Andre’s Restaurant & Wine Boutique, owned by Andre and Tracey de Waal in Newton, bula’s former neighbor on Newton’s Spring Street. The establishment, which has recently launched Andre's Soup Bar during the some of the weekday lunch hours, will be cooking up soup for the dinner.
“Andre’s does a lot of benefits,” said Boyle, who often participates in charity events with de Waal.
All in the Icing of Netcong, a business that Boyle described as “good customers of ours’”, will be donating pies for dessert, said Boyle.
Another participating small business, Boyle said, is Art Magic of Netcong, and the owner of the art school, Karen Klein, is having her students create placemats for the dinner.
“We’re trying to help all small businesses,” said Boyle, about organizing the collaborative effort.
Additionally, many members of the community have stepped up to roll up their sleeves, and volunteer their time, said Boyle.
“We have such a great community,” Boyle said. “Everyone is looking to give back, and wants to be a part of it.”
After the dinner, volunteers will clean up, he said, and then enjoy a meal together.
Jon Wozniak, who plays at Salt Gastropub on Friday nights, Boyle said, has donated his time to play at the dinner. Other musicians also stepped up to offer their services.
Salt Gastropub itself has become multidimensional, with businesses that have evolved from the restaurant, including Salt Stage with well-known international musicians appearing regularly, SG Events for catering, and Salt Studio for culinary instruction and private parties.
Salt Gastropub even formed its own running club, which started off with three people, and is now 40 members strong. The group meets on Tuesday mornings for trail runs behind the restaurant.
Boyle said a pair of friends met through the running club, and, one of the friends without power ended up staying at the other’s home during the week of Hurricane Sandy. The friends expressed to Boyle their gratitude, because their friendship was formed at Salt.
“We’re very proud of the fact we’re very organic,” Boyle said. “It’s not a plan, it’s how you run your business.”
Salt Gastropub is accepting food donations for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner this Sunday from noon until 9 p.m., Monday from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m., all other weekdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday from 2 p.m. until midnight.
Click here for Salt Gastropub’s website.
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