Gulls, Partners Pitch In For San Diego

Gulls, Restaurant Partners Team Up To Feed Healthcare Workers

Initiative involved players and the organization providing meals for San Diego hospitals.

Apr 2, 2020

By Steve Brown/

Serving the San Diego community is a key pillar of the San Diego Gulls Foundation. On Wednesday, the teams and its players did just that.

The Gulls Foundation and the team’s players themselves provided 775 individual meals from five local restaurants to five San Diego hospitals as a small token of appreciation to local doctors, nurses and hospital personnel caring for the community amidst the coronavirus.

The plan involved numerous front office staff, players, local hospital personnel and strategic business partners came together over a week-long effort to coordinate the logistics to prepare and deliver meals from five restaurant partners of the team to five local hospitals. 

“We just want to thank the doctors, nurses and health care workers that are doing an amazing job right now keeping us all safe,” said team captain Sam Carrick. “On behalf of the players, we hope they can enjoy the meals. It’s the least we can do to show our appreciation at this time.”

The meals were funded by the San Diego Gulls Foundation and direct donations by Gulls players themselves where lunch and dinner meals were split among the local hospitals throughout San Diego. Even from afar while they’ve traveled back to their offseason homes during the season’s pause, the players wanted to support the community that supports them year-round. 

“During this unprecedented time, the San Diego Gulls are looking for ways to support our local community,” the team said in a statement released Wednesday night. “Through the San Diego Gulls Foundation and our players’ direct donations, we are proud to support our community’s doctors, nurses and hospital staffs by purchasing meals from numerous local businesses for those on the front lines. We’re appreciative and thankful for the care all first responders provide to our community.”

Meals were prepared by Gulls current and former strategic business partners Surf Side Deli, Dino's Gyros Greek Cafe and Taverna, Rockin’ Baja Lobster and Chipotle.

The local establishments prepped and individually packaged each meal to avoid mass handling of utensils and prevent a catering-style food sharing by the hospital personnel working on the front lines.

“We were able to put together a few donations that hopefully will go to a meal or two that can help out in such a busy and stressful time,” said forward Justin Kloos. I can’t tell you how thankful the community is to have doctors, nurses and health care providers. This battle wouldn’t be manageable without them.” 

“Doctors, nurses and hospital workers are risking their lives and going to work every day to make sure everyone is healthy and safe. It doesn’t go unnoticed,” said left wing and Southern California native Chase De Leo. 

The players’ purchase from Surf Side Deli, operated and owned by team chef Billy “Butter” Joyce was a gesture to give back to someone who has given them so much. Joyce has cooked breakfast on game days, provided lunches and postgame meals for the team dating back to 2018, while he also caters dozens of meal per year for the front office. 

“It shows so much class that these players want to support the community. To see them donate money to help others speaks volumes for the organization,” said Joyce who has 30 years of culinary experience. “For starters, I’ve never worked with a group of people that has more class than the Gulls organization. From when I started working with the team three years ago, how the team is, seeing how the players interact with my own kids and treat them at the rink, I became a fan.”

The order helped Joyce bring in additional staff to needed individually wrap meals compared to the traditional catering delivery he provides locally to meet the needs to hospital staff. With his experience, the timing came together with the planning and skill it takes to coordinate a large-form order such as the one he prepared Wednesday.

“It was so well received yesterday,” added Joyce. “First responders are putting themselves on the line. To be a part of this is pretty cool.” 

Surf Side Deli has become a means to the Point Loma, Ocean Beach and Midway District. Joyce has been able to keep his establishment open in a time where many restaurants have not been as fortunate. 

“We’re in a position to stay open with take out, gourmet meals and sandwiches,” the Ocean Beach native said. “We also started a campaign to raise money to feed those in need in our community. We’ve raised well over $10,000. It’s a testament to working hard and doing the right thing and being part of the community.”

Through his efforts in fundraising to feed those less fortunate and in need of a meal, Joyce and his staff have fed more than 800 individuals over the last couple weeks. If donation’s continue – through those fortunate and generous enough – he believes there’s a chance they can provide more than 20,000 meals over the next few months. 

“If you’re living paycheck to paycheck each week, and don’t have income, there needs to be support,” added Joyce. “As long as people are giving, we can keep providing meals to those in need.”

“If you have a vision of helping people, like what my taught me, it comes back tenfold.”

Surf Side Deli is located at 1912 Rosecrans Street in Point Loma and open for take out and delivery options can be provided by calling the deli directly at 619-223-9021. To make a donation to directly support Surf Side Deli’s efforts to feed those in need, please visit their Facebook page or donate directly to their Venmo account at SurfSideDeliSD. 

Rockin’ Baja Lobster, a founding partner with the Gulls since the inaugural 2015 season jumped at the opportunity to be a steward in the community and support hospital personnel. With four Southern California locations, the restaurant was able to prepare and deliver more than 150 lunches to Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista Wednesday afternoon. 

“It means the world for us to be able to provide meals to health care workers,” said Adrian Hinojosa, Director of Operations for each of Rockin’ Baja Lobsters three locations throughout San Diego. “We love to provide for the community and be there for them. We’ve been in San Diego for 30 years and providing food for the community is who we are.” 

Working with the Gulls on a large order like this also helps their staff in a time of need where the COVID-19 outbreak has forced establishments into take out or delivery options. 

“It helps create more hours for employees with an order like that,” added Hinojosa. “We get more employees involved to work and an opportunity to keep so many staff on board.” 

Rockin’ Baja Lobster in Gaslamp, Old Town and Oceanside are running daily specials and have take out and delivery options, as well as options via third-party providers via DoorDash, UberEats and GrubHub.

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