From Lima Road to the Lone Star State, a Fort Wayne restaurant is rolling up its sleeves in the middle of the disaster zone. The family-owned BBQ joint is redefining the meaning of comfort food – helping those racing against the clock to rescue Hurricane Harvey victims one plate at a time.
It’s hard to miss the big pig-shaped sign on Lima Road. Lucille’s Bar-B-Que is a staple in the Summit City, and for good reason.
“We make all of our own BBQ sauces,” says general manager Chris Wilson Jr. “We got six different kinds. We make all of our own rubs here. Everything is done fresh daily."
But it isn’t their baby backs that grabbed our attention.
As images of air and water rescues grip our television screens, and as thousands more trapped wait for help, the Wilson family packed up their smoker and headed to Houston. Pictures they sent ABC21 showed water rising over the road as they entered the city.
“We all have bigger smokers,” said Wilson. “We can all cook massive amounts of food. It just kinda makes sense. Just a good way to help everybody out with what we do."
Wilson will join his father and brother in Houston next week. They’re deployed at the U.S. Coast Guard base as a part of Operation BBQ Relief – a nonprofit comprised of competition BBQ joints from across the country who volunteer during natural disasters.
“It’s kinda cool to see people that I’m close with go and help out for other people," said family friend and waitress Annabelle Lessner.
Restaurants who answer the call donate thousands of plates – each with a generous serving of meat, a vegetable, fruit and water.
“If you need a bottle of water,” says Wilson. “Take a bottle of water. If you need a case, we'll give you a case."
This trip marks Lucille’s second as a part of OBR. During the recent flooding in Hammond, Ind., Lucille’s served more than 313,000 plates in just 13 days. A good rehearsal for the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.
"This [Houston] is probably going to be their biggest deployment yet,” said Wilson. “So they're looking at anywhere between 450,000 and 500,000 meals served."
A calling the Wilson family says is worth serving.
"It's a good feeling,” says Wilson. “A very humbling feeling. We're really proud to be a part of it."
You can help Lucille’s BBQ restaurant serve more meals to our Coast Guard men and women in Houston by donating to Operation BBQ Relief at www.operationbbqrelief.org
There is also a donation collection jar at the restaurant on Lima Road.