Venice restaurant creates free food pantry for people in need

Inside Gold Rush BBQ in Venice co-owner Patrick Caudill checks on customers. "How was lunch today? Was everything good?” he asked. 

Outside, he checks the stock of their community food pantry. "Canned goods, cereals, we try to separate pastas, vegetables and soups as to make it as if you were having a grocery experience as much as possible," he said. 

COVID-19 forced the local food bank to stop taking food donations. Caudill’s business partner, Robert Overholser came up with an idea for a walk-up free food pantry.

"Most people just know that everybody needs a little help right now," said Caudill. Those in need can walk up and take what they want. The pantry opens daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are no questions asked. 

"They can come, we are providing bags and boxes, basically they are shopping at Publix with no bill and we are glad they can do that," he explained. 

The community has come out to support them, donating whenever the supply gets low. After 20 years in business, they felt it was their duty to help those who've supported them. 

"We created a family-style restaurant here not only with the theme but with our employees, our customers, we’ve gotten to know people over the years like family," said Caudill. 

For the past two and a half months, they've handed out baby food, pet food and daily staples. They plan on continuing until the end of the month. It's a hand-up for whoever remains hurting. 

"We definitely see some people who are distressed right now, I’m glad they feel comfortable enough to come here," said Caudill. 

Gold Rush BBQ in located in Venice at 661 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice. They are accepting donations.

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