SALEM — The new Tuscan Kitchen restaurant is going to give a sneak peek of their menu to a select few — Salem's veterans. They're inviting more than 1,000 of them to come eat on Veterans Day.
"Obviously, this town breeds some very patriotic people who want to go out and serve," said Amy Moore, a spokeswoman for the restaurant.
Moore said the restaurant is in the process of sending out invitations to all the veterans in town — and, so far, they've counted about 1,400 of them. They've made a list of veterans with the help of Douglas and Stephanie Micklan with the American Legion, who helped them track people down.
Moore said Jim Rogers, the restaurant's executive chef and a partner in the business with Joe Faro of Windham, started serving up meals to veterans when Moore and Rogers worked in Newburyport at Michael's Harborside.
"I believe it started the year that we went into Afghanistan, and we were sitting down and talking about plans for fall, and we said this would be amazing to do," Moore said.
The next year, right around Veterans Day, Newburyport had its first fallen soldier, Moore said.
"The first year we did it, it was about 500 people and then it grew to about 1,000," she said.
Tuscan Kitchen won't even be open for general business on Veterans Day — they're slated to open later in November — but Moore said when Rogers suggested the idea of serving veterans to Faro, he was on board. And with the staff still getting to know one another, it will be a special experience not just for the veterans, but for them, too.
"What it does internally for team building is almost as miraculous and wonderful as it is for the community," Moore said.
There may be another benefit from the event — the comprehensive list of the town's veterans that Tuscan Kitchen has assembled, with the help of the Micklans, could be used in the future to reach out to them. Moore said the restaurant, which plans to hire 150 people and can seat more than 600, plans to be very involved in the community.
"You don't have a business of this size, this magnitude, without being involved in the community," she said.
Moore said seating will begin at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11. Invitations are being mailed out to veterans now, she said, but for more information they can call the restaurant at 952-4875 or e-mail Moore at email@example.com.
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