Update, 4:07 p.m.: According to Brian Luscher, DPD can't take in any more free food. "The Central Division can not handle any more food today, or probably even tomorrow! Or Sunday," Luscher said. "They have much more than they need and a line of people waiting to give more[Thanks] Which is sweet, but also bordering on wasteful. People are just showing up with great intentions, but without coordination. And now the department is inundated with excess food, which their efforts are better utilized doing their duties rather than buffet management. This is in no way meant to be a scolding, just tap the brakes generous citizens and businesses of Dallas!"
It's lunch hour on a Friday in Deep Ellum but the neighborhood feels quieter than usual — but not at Luscher's Red Hots. Despite only one customer eating lunch at 11:15 a.m., there's a flurry of activity. Chefs and caterers come and go from the restaurant, loading boxes of food and water into a van to deliver meals to the Dallas Police Department.
At 7 a.m. on the day after the shooting that took the lives of four DPD officers and one DART officer, Brian Luscher, owner of Luscher's Red Hots and the Grape, started making phone calls to fellow chefs and caterers. His goal: To deliver lunch and dinner for 100 to the Dallas Police Department.
"I've got so many people calling and offering to help," Luscher said as people loaded a Two Sisters Catering van. Inside, boxes piled up: Pizzas from Cane Rosso. Box lunches from Unleavened Fresh Kitchen. Water and fruit from Chefs Produce. Disposable plates and utensils from Ace Mart Restaurant Supply. Hot dogs from Luscher's. Water and tacos from Good 2 Go Taco. Comfort food from Two Sisters. Bread and cookies from Village Baking Co. Chefs like Mynetta Cockerell and Katherine Clapner come and go from Luscher's Red Hots, offering extra sets of hands.
To keep from feeling helpless in the face of senseless tragedy, members of the Dallas service industry are rallying to do the one thing they know how to do: feed people.
"Hopes and prayers, that's nice, you can do that, but I fix problems and get shit done," Luscher said. "That's what chefs are good at."
After delivering lunch around 11:30 a.m., Luscher and other volunteers plan to gather more food this evening to deliver dinner.
"We wanted to do something — we've got cops who eat with us five, six days a week," said Jonathan Stirnweis, executive chef and general manager at Two Sisters Catering. "They're family. We need to do something and food is what we know how to do."
A couple blocks from Luscher's, Braindead Brewing is offering free food and drinks for Dallas police.
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"The police did their job last night. Today it's our turn to do ours," reads a post on Braindead's Facebook profile. "Any police in uniform can come on down for a free lunch on us. If you worked all night and changed clothes already, some proper ID will do just fine. Lunch, house beers, dinner, whatever ya want. Thanks for doing what you do."
Downtown, the Hard Rock Cafe, too, is offering free lunch and dinner (select offerings) to any Dallas or DART officer, according to a news release. Texas Ale Project is offering free beer to all first responders this weekend, and 20 percent of all beer sales at the brewery will go to families of the fallen officers, according to a Facebook post. All uniformed officers eat free today and tonight at all Bonnell's Restaurant Group locations, Jon Bonnell said in a Facebook post.
Larger fundraisers are in the works as well. Katherine Clapner from Dude, Sweet Chocolate is working with Sharon Van Meter to organize a family-style fundraiser July 31 in Trinity Groves with all proceeds going to the families of those killed in the shooting.
Luscher, who welled up with tears more than once while organizing lunch for police officers, said the food delivery was an emotional moment.
"Oh, I lost it," he said after the delivery. "One of our good friends who is a ranking officer started welling up — it's very intense there right now. Rightfully so."