ENCINITAS — Since January, Doug Wetherald and the staff at Tower 13 Sports Bar and Grill in Cardiff have been providing dozens of meals every week to residents in need.
Like most local businesses, Tower 13 has been put through the gauntlet over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant has gone through seemingly endless phases of openings and closings, dining restrictions changing as cases rise and fall, all while working to try and retain staff members.
When Gov. Gavin Newsom issued his Regional Stay at Home Order in December, Wetherald decided to close up shop and wait out the storm. He and the team cleaned the bar from top to bottom, but more often than not, they found themselves with ample time on their hands.
So, Wetherald reached out to Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear in hopes of lending a helping hand to those less fortunate.
Blakespear made some calls and connected the bar with the city’s Community Resource Center and one other organization that wished to remain anonymous. Not long after, Wetherald and the kitchen staff started cooking up a storm, ultimately providing 70 meals a week to local residents who had fallen on hard times.
“We’ve done things in the past where we give part of the proceeds or sales back, but never something this direct,” he said. “We just wanted to help out however we could.”
The charity work served two needs for Tower 13: The staff was given hours so they could keep their jobs, and the restaurant was able to give back to the community.
John Van Cleef, CEO of the Community Resource Center, said other local businesses have stepped up over the last year as well. These selfless acts of kindness, he explained, best represent what the city of Encinitas stands for.
“It really is amazing to think about the benefits of philanthropy and giving, the benefits of innovation and sharing, caring for neighbors and the real social impact community makes,” he said. “It’s just incredible.”
Twice a week, CRC volunteers would drive out to Tower 13 to pick up the meals. They delivered the meals to homeless seniors sheltering local hotels and motels.
“People were so appreciative to have these hot meals and it just added to the dignity of their life and the help being provided along the way,” Van Cleef said.
Tower 13 was able to reopen for outdoor dining in late January after the regional order was lifted. Even though Wetherald and his team are back in business, but they’ve decided to continue donating meals to the needy.
“It just felt like the right thing to do,” Wetherald said. “The thought of people not having the means to get food in the US at this time is mind-boggling. We just didn’t’ want to stop.