HAMMOND — The only thing missing was the beer. Two local businesses teamed up Friday to do a little something for their community’s police and fire departments.
Byway Brewing Co. and Snow & Ice Pros Inc. collaborated on lunches for Hammond police and firefighters.
“We love our police and fire,” said Michael Anderson, owner of Snow & Ice Pros. “They put their lives on the line every day for us, and now, with this virus, their jobs are even riskier. We had to repay them. It’s the least we could do.”
“This is the absolute least we could do,” echoed Dave Toth, co-owner of Byway Brewing. “We are proud to be part of Mike’s generous offer and give back, in a small way, to the people who are getting us through this.”
Staff members prepared bacon cheeseburgers for two fire stations and the downtown police station.
Toth’s wife, Ellen, who is in charge of special events at the brewery, was among the kitchen helpers.
“I’m just helping out today, but I like this," she said. "It’s a very nice gesture.”
Both sponsors have been affected by the coronavirus.
The brewery, which opened four years ago, averages 90 special events annually and was on course to host 125 events this year before COVID-19 hit. The business already has lost 12 bookings, Ellen Toth noted.
Anderson’s business plows snow and provides road salt. From a business standpoint, the virus has not affected customers. One employee, Anderson said, tested positive for the coronavirus. The employee and his wife were quarantined for 14 days and are now healthy.
In the employee’s absence, Anderson said, co-workers stepped up and filled the vacancy.
Anderson cited two reasons for working with Byway Brewery. One, it’s a way for Byway to repay Snow & Ice Pros for snow removal. Second, on a more personal level, Anderson had his first date with Laurie, his wife of 16 months, at the brewery.
Toth said that despite these challenging times, “it’s great to see the community coming together. There’s a lot of bad out there, but this is also a chance to see the best in people come out.”
Byway continues to do carryout orders for food and drinks during Indiana's stay-at-home order, which has mandated the closure of nonessential businesses. Toth said the business also has used this time to refinish the floors and complete other cleaning work.
Regarding the boxed lunches, Thomas Duszynski, the brewery’s co-owner, said, “It’s about time we did something. These guys are just solid citizens. This shows how much we really care.”
Each boxed meal contained a Byway gift card.
The business owners delivered the meals where the hot food received warm thanks.
“It’s fantastic,” said Capt. Bob Baliga at Fire Station 6. “When people bring food like this, it’s appreciation by them for us, and we appreciate their generosity.”
At Fire Station 8, Capt. Frank Bossi cited the generosity of other Hammond businesses. Buffalo Wild Wings has delivered wings and other treats, while 18th Street Distillery provided beer-scented hand sanitizer.
“We appreciate it very much,” he said.
Lt. Steve Kellogg, public information officer for the Hammond Police Department, also praised community support for first responders.
“There have been so many other community members, as a whole, in terms of outpouring for police,” Kellogg said. “This includes food, meals and personal protection equipment.”
These kindnesses “mean a lot to our officers and boosts their morale. We want the community to know we’re out there, working to keep the streets safe. Unfortunately, crime does not go away, even when there’s a virus.”
Kellogg said the department also has received food and personal protective equipment from other local groups, including 18th Street Brewery, Anna's Kombucha Cafe, Anthem Church, Domino's Pizza, First Baptist Church, Gayety's Chocolate, Miles of Many Smiles, Refresh Facility Services, Region Home Buyers, Ring home security systems, The Sub Hub Deli, Vito's Pharmacy and others.