New Haven pizza icon, veterans program make ‘Good Neighbors’
The simple act of enjoying a pizza Monday will help aid in the care of those Connecticut residents who served in the military.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is launching a fundraising mechanism, starting Monday by donating 10 percent of lunch and dinner proceeds at its New Haven restaurant to Friends of Fisher House Connecticut.
The donation being made to the Fisher House Connecticut is part of a “Good Neighbors Day” program that the pizza restaurant is launching “in an effort to give back to the people in the community who support us,” said Gary Bimonte, the third generation owner of Frank Pepe’s.
The Fisher House Foundation builds and maintains long term residential facilities near military hospitals nationwide and organizers in Connecticut are in the midst of fundraising to support the West Haven location near the VA Healthcare System campus there.
There are 54 Fisher House locations nationwide and veterans and their families can stay at them free of charge. Over the past 28 years, these facilities have provided services to over 142,000 military families, saving them more than $167 million in lodging and transportation costs.
Here in Connecticut, the effort to support the local Fisher House is being underwritten by the Creed law firm in Bristol.
Kevin Creed, a principal in the law firm, founded the local Fisher House chapter in 2011 and is its volunteer chief executive officer. Creed is an Army veteran of 24 years and former Connecticut State Trooper.
Bimonte said he found out about Fisher House Connecticut through a car club of which he is a member.
“My grandfather’s business survived through the Great Depression and a World War and so doing something like this is a tribute to what he did for the community,” Bimonte said Friday. “Back then, nobody had money and yet they still came to his business to eat. He would extend credit to people and do what he could to help others, so I thought this was appropriate.”
Bimonte said the restaurant has guaranteed a donation of at least $500, “but I know we’re going to do a lot better than that given the number of customers we usually get on a weekday.”
Bimonte said he and his family are still formulating how frequently they will do “Good Neighbors Day” and what other charities the restaurant will do fundraising for.