Lake Wales American Legion Post opens restaurant in the mall

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At the new Area 71 Restaurant, they’re serving up good food, a big dollop of patriotism, and possibly a membership application.

Area 71 is run by the members of the American Legion Post 71, and just opened at the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales, Florida. All the staffers are volunteers and work only for tips.

Area 71 is the only place of its kind in the state and came into being as a result of a twist of fate.

Their old post was a few miles away from the mall. A year and a half ago, Hurricane Irma hit the building, It was a turning point.

Insurance didn’t cover many of the needed repairs, so they started thinking about what could come next. They also realized their membership was aging and knew they wanted to bring in new blood.

So they took a leap of faith and decided to relocate to an empty spot in the mall. So far, it seems to be paying off.

“We have a lot of exposure here with people coming in, a lot of veterans who didn’t even know there was an American Legion Post in Lake Wales,” Post Commander Art Quigley told FOX 13.

The group has signed up 55 new members since opening Area 71 at the beginning of the year.

“The atmosphere is amazing, everyone is friendly,” said Aaron Nogah, a server. “Customers come in and thank us for our service, and we thank them for their service.”

Aside from bolstering their membership, the group is putting some money in the kitty, which goes to community projects, like helping the homeless.