TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Mission BBQ is not just about the food. The restaurant has been popping up all over Florida for a while now, but many aren't familiar with their actual mission -- and how they carry out that mission every day.
If you want to take part, you may want to get there before noon. At that time, they play the national anthem.
"No matter what is going on in our restaurant -- no matter how busy it is -- we stop and take two minutes to pay that respect and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for years," Stephen Sullivan, director of operations for Mission BBQ, explained to FOX 13. "The coolest part is when the flag is hanging in the middle of our restaurant and we realize that we're coming together."
"When I look to my left and to my right and all I see is unity across the board…we're all together," he added.
The company started in Maryland. The founders said that September 11th is a day that changed the world, and they wanted to change it back through the national anthem.
"The love that we have for people is the same love we have for food," Sullivan said. "Yeah, we do food and we do food great, but when it comes to it we do great service."
If you're dining in before or after noon, customers can take a moment to look at the four walls when your attention isn't directed towards the American flag. On those walls, there is more than just décor. There are images and memorabilia of those who served the U.S.
"This is someone's story. This is a family's history," Sullivan said. "Once we build that trust and people see who we are, what we are and why we do it, it defines Mission BBQ. We at Mission BBQ we are good listeners, but we also become great storytellers."
Last year, he recalled, a mother flew in to honor her son on their wall. She came into their restaurant at 11:30 a.m. –- just in time for the national anthem.
"It can't not be special to share her son with us on our wall – to honor him every day. For a mother to say, ‘Here's my son,'" Sullivan said while fighting back tears.
On the days leading up to September 11th, Mission BBQ is having their "9/11 Never Forget Hometown Heroes Cup," which can be purchased for $2. The proceeds will go to local first responders.