WEST TOWN — A Nashville fried chicken restaurant is donating meals to staff at the St. Mary’s campus of AMITA Health Saints Mary & Elizabeth in West Town.
Fry the Coop, 1529 W. Chicago Ave., will donate the meals next week. Joe Fontana opened the restaurant last year. He operates three other Fry the Coops, in The Loop, Oak Lawn and Elmhurst.
In addition to St. Mary’s, Fontana is donating food to Emhurst Hospital, in Elmhurst, and Advocate Christ Medical Center, in Oak Lawn.
While The Loop restaurant is closed, Fontana said the other three locations are going strong.
The donations were inspired by Advocate staff in Oak Lawn who, before coronavirus, often ate at Fry the Coop, Fontana said.
When the outbreak hit, Fontana said a nurse told him that 29 ER nurses had to be quarantined at the same time because they simultaneously came in contact with the virus.
That nurse also told Fontana many workers are working back-to-back shifts, and that some staffers are even sleeping at the hospital.
Fontana said he and his staffers have considered shifting hours to come in at 2 a.m. to prepare 3 a.m. lunches for the hospital’s overnight staff.
“They’re just working nonstop, and the worst part? They can’t even see their families,” Fontana said. “We were like, ‘Oh my God, let’s bring these guys some food.’ … They’re risking their lives and we’re bringing them fried chicken. It’s so minuscule.”
After placing an order, customers can donate to the first responder meal effort. For every dollar given, Fry the Coop will match it, Fontana said. You can donate in increments of $5, $10 or $15.
So far, about $1,000 has been donated.
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