The St. James restaurant in Mineola was honored Wednesday for providing meals to police officers during the height of the pandemic.  Credit: Howard Schnapp

Staff at The St. James, an Irish bar and restaurant in Mineola, weren't about to let "fridges full of food" go to waste when nonessential businesses were ordered shut in March.

"No, we had a better plan," said Liam Killie, The St. James' general manager.

"We noticed people were making all types of donations to places like hospitals and we felt [police officers] were getting left out … that's when we came up with the idea of using the food we had to make meals to donate to law enforcement officers."

Killie took to Instagram to contact NYPD Officer Austin Glickman, of Long Beach, who's also the founder of Law Enforcement Officers Weekend, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting those "in law enforcement and their families."

"When I saw his message saying the restaurant wanted to provide us with free meals," Glickman said, "I thought it'd be a one-time thing but it just evolved to the point where we've now fed over 3,000 police officers across the tristate area, specifically because of The St. James … It's been wonderful."

The restaurant supplied the nonprofit with hot meals — hamburgers, wings, steak sandwiches, shepherd's pies — on a weekly basis for several months.

"And sometimes, multiple times a week," said Glickman, adding that the restaurant's initiative was "extra special" for more than one reason. "…we're living in a time in which law enforcement officials are often mistreated by politicians and the news media, so to have a business actively reach out to assist those who protect the thin blue line, it's astonishing. And secondly, because the restaurant was closed, they themselves were hurting financially, losing thousands of dollars, and still they wanted to help."

Elected officials in the Town of Hempstead also took note of The St. James' charitable efforts, joining Glickman and a small group last week to present Killie and the establishment's owner, Tracey Flanagan, with special recognitions.

Glickman presented The St. James with a plaque displaying the emblems of all police precincts where the restaurant's meals "lifted the spirits" of the front-line workers. Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D'Esposito presented the restaurant with a certificate of recognition.

"To see a local restaurant, right here in our community, step up, even in their time of despair when their doors are closed, and they're not serving the public," D'Esposito said. "They opened their kitchen, they opened their hearts … it's just so beautiful to see."

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