Web Exclusive | May 2013 | By Christine Blank

Nurturing Boston

Quick serves step up to support volunteers, responders after Boston bombings.

The Boston Fire Department was treated to free meals at Firehouse Subs.
The Boston Fire Department was treated to free meals at Firehouse Subs' Copley Square location.
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As soon as he learned about the April 15th Boston bombings, Dave Tucci, the New England area representative for Firehouse Subs’ DMA, called the Firehouse franchisee closest to the bombings.

Tucci was relieved to find out that all employees at Firehouse’s Copley Square location, just one mile away from the first blast, were OK. The store’s only damage was its sign, which was lying on the ground. Still, the atmosphere in the area was chaos.

“There is no playbook for something like this,” Tucci says. “We cleaned up the restaurant as best we could and got everybody out the door. They closed all the businesses in the area.”

Other quick serves in the area shared that confusion in the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings. But in the days and weeks after the tragedy, operators pulled together to support area residents and responders.

After the Copley Square Firehouse Subs reopened on April 24, the store’s franchisee, Tom Salter, took to the nearby streets to thank first responders.

“He told emergency technicians, police officers, and others, ‘Thank you for everything you have done. The least we can do is buy you lunch,’” Tucci says. The Copley Square location offered free meals to all public safety officials through April 30, with the help of Firehouse’s Public Safety Foundation.

McDonald’s representatives were on-site near the bombings, offering volunteers and law enforcement food and beverages.

“While these locations were formally closed to the public, McDonald’s representatives stayed on scene to service the officials working to secure the Boston region,” says Nicole Dinoia, communications manager for McDonald’s Boston region. “We provided over 500 Extra Value Meals and were called back in to provide thousands of cups of coffee for the funeral of the tragically fallen MIT officer, [Sean Collier].”

“Our No. 1 priority during this tragedy is to provide the first responders, law enforcement, and volunteers with food and beverages.”

Even though between 10 and 15 McDonald’s stores were closed after the bombings, Dinoia says, the locations that were open invited volunteers and first responders in for free meals and beverages. The company also worked with the Red Cross and offered coffee and breakfast to volunteers stationed at a local hotel.

Instead of a corporate-wide fundraising initiative for Boston charities, McDonald’s has, to date, taken a local, hands-on approach. “Our No. 1 priority during this tragedy is to provide the first responders, law enforcement, and volunteers with food and beverages,” Dinoia says.

Canton, Massachusetts–based Dunkin’ Brands has donated $100,000 to The One Fund Boston, and the Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation made a separate $100,000 donation to The One Fund.

“We are proud to be an organization with Boston roots and hope the donation to The One Fund Boston, plus our other local and in-restaurant efforts, will help victims and their families during this difficult time,” writes Nigel Travis, CEO of Dunkin’ brands, in a blog post.

Dunkin’s Boston-area franchisees sent trucks to serve coffee and hot chocolate to emergency workers in the community. In addition, around 2,000 participating Dunkin’ restaurants in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine are collecting donations for The One Fund Boston.

Participating Panera Bread cafés in the metro Boston area are also accepting donations on behalf of One Fund Boston, as well as for the Boston Children’s Hospital Emergency and Trauma Fund.

Like the chains, several independent restaurants throughout Boston are feeding first responders and victims or raising money for The One Fund Boston and other funds. For example, three friends partnered with EatBoston to create a “This One’s on Me” fund that gives meals to first responders. Through GoFundMe, nearly $4,000 has been raised to help participating Boston restaurants give meals or gift cards to those responders.

“The first responders gave their time and their families’ time. We originally thought of it because, if I saw these guys at a bar or restaurant, I would buy them a beer,” says Mike Jacobson, an ad agency representative in California who is one of the campaign’s organizers.

The “This One’s on Me” campaign has also been used to support the restaurants affected by the Boston bombings. “Boston had to shut down for a day. These restaurants had at least 24–48 hours of losses,” Jacobson says.

Cask ‘n Flagon, which has two restaurants in the metropolitan Boston area, created a special “Patriot Pizza” to support The One Fund Boston. From April 19 through April 28, 100 percent of the proceeds from the Patriot Pizza were donated to the fund.

“We applaud the heroic acts of the Boston Police, Boston Fire, Boston EMTs, doctors, nurses, as well as several civilians that responded to the need of many victims,” the company posted on its website. “We continue to be amazed by the outpouring of support from within our community, as well as around the world to help the victims. We know that the good in society will always dominate evil. Boston is a strong city that will persevere in the face of this tragedy while continuing to nurture those that need it most.”