Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spring Hill restaurant offers free meal in exchange for charity donations

SPRING HILL — Before she sat down for her coffee, pancakes and eggs at the Press Box Restaurant on Thursday morning, Nadine Seaver hauled a big white box into the back of the dining area.

The package encased a cornucopia of goods for needy families: spaghetti, canned chili, vegetables, peanut butter and grape jelly were among the items. Nearby, donated soups, cereal, ramen noodles and pounds of dry Kibbles 'n Bits overflowed boxes lined up against the wall.

"There's a lot of hungry people," Seaver said as she sat at a booth and sipped her coffee minutes later. "And kids have to have peanut butter and jelly."

The Press Box Restaurant, at 5242 Mariner Blvd. near Bali Lane, gave away more than 1,300 free meals Thursday to customers who brought in food for the Nativity Lutheran Church Food Pantry or the Humane Society of the Nature Coast.

Throughout the day, workers at the Food Pantry and the Humane Society came by at least four times each to clear the back of the restaurant of donated goods. The effort also raised $1,000 for the Humane Society.

Donna Marklinsky, owner of the restaurant, held the event to woo new customers and ramp up food donations for local charities, which she collects all year long in a box at the back of the restaurant. She said the economy has taken a toll on her donation boxes, and she hopes this event will remind people to bring nonperishable items when they come eat.

"This is more food than I've had in months," she said as she gestured toward the pile.

Customers who didn't know about the special and didn't bring donations could get free meals if they put $5 in the collection jar for the Humane Society. Alternatively, customers could promise to bring donations on the next visit.

Misty Rummel, who has worked as a cook at the restaurant for more than four months, briskly painted butter on toast and smacked grits into bowls as she explained that most of the morning customers were regulars.

The pace picked up in the afternoon when 106.3 FM radio broadcast live from the restaurant.

"There was a big, big wait at lunchtime," Marklinsky said as she rushed between tables at 4 p.m. "I'm so grateful."

Ellie and Don Paschky, who are retired and live in Spring Hill, eat at the Press Box about three times per week.

The Paschkys enjoy the sassy atmosphere (signs on the walls say things like, "Warning: Retiree knows it all and has the time to tell you). They also like that the owners remember their regular order of pancakes, eggs and sausage.

"They're lovely people," Ellie Paschky said. "They're really good-hearted."

Dawn Vincent, who brought her two kids on their way to school at Explorer K-8, lugged in five bags of assorted dog food.

Her son, Carl Blanchard-Vincent, 13, said his mom usually prepares cereal or scrambled eggs for breakfast. But on Thursday, the family decided to donate to the Humane Society and take advantage of the free meal.

The Press Box Restaurant, which has been open more than six years, has seen better times, Marklinsky said. She used to squeeze about 500 people per day into her tiny 1,200-square-foot space. Now, it's closer to 250 people, she said.

The restaurant is doing better than most, she said. But she spent $2,000 in extra food for the event with the hope that it would drum up some future business.

"I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't hoping to attract some new customers," she said. "But it works out for the people who come in here and eat, it works out for the people and animals who get donations. It works out for everybody."

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or [email protected]

Spring Hill restaurant offers free meal in exchange for charity donations 01/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 6, 2011 8:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Fred Ridley on the Road to Augusta


    Last week, I sat down with Fred Ridley, the new chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. Ridley, a lawyer who has resided in Tampa since 1981, was the 1975 U.S. Amateur champion and is the only Chairman to have played in the Masters. I wrote a long story on Ridley, but here are some of the …

  2. Tampa police link two shootings, tell Seminole Heights residents to avoid walking alone


    TAMPA — One was a 22-year-old African American man. The other was a 32-year-old white woman.

    "There are no clear connections between our two victims," Interim Police Chief Brian Dugan said at a hastily called news conference Tuesday. "However our investigation leads us to believe the cases are related." [Photo from video]
  3. Pinellas Sheriff deputies T. Festa, left, and J. Short, righ,t arrest suspect Christopher Parsells, Pinellas Park, early Tuesday as part of a joint roundup of unlicensed contractors. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  4. Richard Spencer coming to town? What UF can learn from other schools


    With Richard Spencer's controversial visit to the University of Florida quickly approaching, some UF and Gainesville police officers boarded a plane bound for Berkeley.

    Thousands of people, many of them college students, gather for a vigil on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va. on Aug. 16 -- four days after a Unite the Right rally that led to clashes and the death of a woman. In advance of an appearance Thursday at the University of Florida by white nationalist Richard Spencer, the school is looking at what happened in Charlottesville and other venues where controversial speakers have visited. [Jason Lappa | The New York Times]
  5. Trigaux: On new Forbes 400 list of U.S. billionaires, 35 now call Florida their home

    Personal Finance

    The latest Forbes 400 richest people in America was unveiled Tuesday, with 35 billionaires on that list calling Florida home. That's actually down from 40 Florida billionaires listed last year when a full 10 percent listed declared they were Floridians by residence.

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr., shopping center developer and  former San Francisco 49ers Owner, posed with his bronze bust last year during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. DeBartolo remains the wealthiest person in Tampa Bay according to the Forbes 400 list released Tuesday. 
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]