Gilroy Restaurant Makes Pizza Into the Night to Feed First Responders

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Raj Nayyar's friends and family made pizza and wings through the night for first responders after the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival onSunday. (Courtesy of Raj Nayyar)

Raj Nayyar, the owner of Straw Hat Pizza in Gilroy, was sitting at home at midnight on Sunday thinking about the Garlic Festival shooting when he got a call from his friend Gabriel Gonzalez, who is also Gilroy's city manager.

We need some food, Gonzalez said. Could Nayyar open up his pizza place and help them out?

"I didn't have to think twice. I wanted immediately to help out," Nayyar said. "We just wanted to give back to the community."

A shooter killed three people, including a 6-year-old boy and a 13-year-old-girl, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival late Sunday afternoon.

As Nayyar drove back to Gilroy from his home in Hayward, he notified a friend who posted a call for help on Facebook. Pretty soon about a dozen people were in the kitchen making buffalo wings, pizzas and salads for first responders and victims' families, Nayyar said.

Nayyar said his friends and family were already awake and upset over the deadly shooting, and this gave them something productive to do.

"We all sat down and just talked about what tragedy had happened. The mood was obviously in shock," Nayyar said. "We just got to come together as a community. And we will. Everybody is strong here."

Nayyar said they delivered food to first responders at four different locations in Gilroy throughout the night. They also donated pizzas to first responders and victims on Monday.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting

He also said if not for a simple twist of fate, he would have been at the festival when the shooting occurred: he had planned to pick up a friend there at 5:15, but the friend had left early. Nayyar said he heard about the shooting at 5:45 p.m. and frantically started calling friends and family because most of the people he knew were there.

His restaurant, he said, will always be a space for the community.

"Anybody that needs any food, our restaurant is open for everybody; first responders, family. We’re gonna get through this as a family. Anybody that needs any gathering, we have private rooms," he said. "Whatever people need we’re here."