Baton Rouge response to #25onthe25th fundraiser for fallen officers exceeds expectations

While the final tally has not been calculated, establishments that participated in #25onthe25th—Monday’s areawide fundraiser to benefit the families of the law enforcement officers killed and wounded in the July 17 ambush attack—say the response was overwhelming.

At Walk-On’s in Juban Crossing, a line nearly of nearly four dozen people snaked out of the door by 5 p.m., as patrons waited for a table.

At Ruffino’s on Highland Road, business was more than double what it would typically be on a Monday in the summer, according to Executive Chef and co-owner Peter Sclafani.

And at Huey’s and the Draft House downtown—the bars owned by Metro Councilman John Delgado, who first conceived the fundraiser—participation far exceeded expectations.

“Hundreds of people came out,” says Delgado, who estimates his two bars raised more than $5,000. “The only downside is that some restaurants were so full, people couldn’t get a table.”

For Mestizo’s owner Jim Urdiales, who was also active in helping to organize the campaign, Monday sales exceeded those of Cinco de Mayo, typically the restaurant’s busiest night of the year.

“A Monday for us is typically $2,500 (in gross revenues),” Urdiales says. “I went into this thinking if we could do $6,000 that would be great. We did $14,200. That is amazing.”

As its name suggests, most of the participating bars and restaurants pledged 25% of sales on Monday, July 25, to funds established to benefit the families of Baton Rouge police officers Matthew Gerald and Montrell Jackson and East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy Brad Garafola, and wounded deputy Nicholas Tullier. Funds have been established by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and Capital One Bank.

However, some establishments that are closed on Mondays are donating proceeds from today’s sales. Others raised money last weekend. And some are donating more than 25%. Mestizo’s is donating 50% of proceeds from Monday’s sales.

So far, the BRAF fund has raised more than $142,000, and an additional $60,000 in pledges is expected. That’s not including the money raised Monday that will be donated to the BRAF fund.

BRAF spokesman Mukul Verma says he doesn’t know exactly how many of the 130 or so participating establishments will make donations to the BRAF fund, but he estimates the fund will ultimately raise well in excess of $250,000.

“I did a drive-by last night of many of the participating restaurants, and the response was overwhelming,” he says. “It’s encouraging because it shows how many people really care.”

—Stephanie Riegel

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