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Published on April 17, 2020

Restaurant owner “trying to give something back’ with midnight delivery

Tomatoes Donation CCH

The overnight shift at Cape Cod Hospital had a big surprise on a recent night: an Italian feast donated by a restaurant owner and his family.

“I just wanted to do something nice for them,” said Marc Petralia, owner of Tomatoes Italian Bar & Grill and Tomatillos, both in Sandwich.

Tomatoes Team

With a crew of a dozen people, including his wife, Janine, their daughters, Erica and Jacquelyn, and employees, Petralia prepared 125 servings to bring to Cape Cod Hospital. He plans to bring 75 servings to the overnight staff at Falmouth Hospital next week.

“We have so many healthcare workers who patronize our place. They have supported us big time over the years, so we’re trying to give something back,” said Petralia.

While many restaurants have generously donated food to hospital staff over the last several weeks, Petralia decided to concentrate his efforts on a shift that does not always reap the benefits of food donations – the overnight staff.

“It’s awesome, as overnight shifts tend to be overlooked, mainly just because most businesses aren’t open, and most people are in bed. But at the hospital, we're here 24/7, 365 days a year,” said Evan Boudreau, off-shift nursing supervisor at Cape Cod Hospital.

“I want to give a big thanks to everyone out there who is showing their support.”

Petralia, who grew up in the Boston area, said his family has always been in the restaurant business. “I started working in my family restaurants when I was 12 or 13, dish washing, prep cook, cook, bar back, bartender, busboy. You name it, I've done it.”

Like so many businesses, his was hit hard by the shutdowns made necessary by the coronavirus crisis.

Tomatoes Food Donation

“We were having our best winter ever by far, and we were looking forward to the spring and summer,” he said. “In 48 hours, it all changed, but I’m trying to teach my kids a lesson out of it. We’re going to get through this.”

Despite his own hardship, he wanted to find a way to help others, and the employees at Cape Cod Healthcare were at the front of his mind.

Grateful Hospital Staff

“It's really nice for the night shift to be recognized,” said Jenae Dalbec RN MSN, emergency center manager at Cape Cod Hospital. “Sometimes they get left out, because businesses aren't open late.

“The community support has been amazing. EMS crews and police and everyone else says, ‘Thank you.’ It makes it easier to know that we’re fully supported and trusted to take care of our patients.”

Petralia, his family and some of his kitchen employees created a late-night assembly line to cook and package the servings of chicken parmesan with penne alfredo, meatballs and garlic rolls.

“It makes us feel good to help,” Petralia said.

Ways for Restaurants to Help

Petralia’s effort is part of the Meal Trains Plus campaign.

“There is a consistent desire from the community to support our healthcare workers, and we’re very grateful for the community support,” said Christopher Lawson, senior vice president and chief development officer at Cape Cod Healthcare.

“We needed to coordinate a systematic and efficient approach to make sure that the generosity of the community is handled in a manner that doesn't impact the safety of our staff.”

Donations of food will only be accepted from a licensed commercial facility. To learn more about donating meals for healthcare workers, visit the Cape Cod Healthcare Meal Train Plus web site.

Top Photo: Marc Petralia and Jenae Dalbec, RN MSN