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  • Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

Former New York firefighter feeding first responders for free on 9/11

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

JONESBORO, Ark- First responders will be able to enjoy a free cheese or pepperoni pizza at Pastaria 49 on Saturday as the restaurant gives back.

A former New York firefighter himself, executive chef Dana Lamel says they had to do something honoring the 20th anniversary.

“They can come in and get a free pizza on us, and it’s just our way of trying to say thank you again for the work they do every day. It’s- it’s not an easy job, and it’s a thankless job a lot of the time. But these men and women are putting their lives on the line each day,” Lamel said.

A New York firefighter at the time, Lamel responded to ground zero on September 11, arriving shortly after the first tower collapsed.

While he can’t believe it has been twenty years already, he reflects on the events that took place on that beautiful Tuesday morning.

“It makes me think back every year on it. To where I was, what I was doing that day, and what I saw.”

Lamel said thinking back two decades ago.

Saturday will be a special day as they pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate price and lost their lives on America's darkest day.

“Instead of, ya know, it being a somber event we’re celebrating. We’re going to celebrate the lives of the men and women that were lost that day and just keep the memory going,” he said.

Lamel, who has worked in restaurants since he was a teenager, was a firefighter for nine years before trading in his uniform for an apron.

The Long Island native arrived in Jonesboro after connecting with now business partner Skip Steele. The two opened Q 49 Smokehouse in 2019 and Pastaria 49 in June.

The murals inside the Italian restaurant serve as a reminder of Lamel's home, New York City, and about how far the city has come since September 11, 2001.

He says all first responders, including those behind the scenes, will dine free tomorrow.

“And that goes for the mechanics. The men and women that are keeping the fire trucks and ambulances on the road. Ya know, the people answering the phones for the calls, this is an invite to all of them.”

First responders can stop in at any time from 11 A.M. to 8 P.M. to eat free and receive cards and thank you notes from Nettleton STEAM students.


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