PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Normally this time of year, PJ’s Deli in Bridgeville is finishing preparations to serve thousands of meals for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix racers, but this year they have a few more mouths they’d like to feed.
The flooding on July 10, 2013, hit Bridgeville hard, and many of the victims are within walking distance of PJ’s Deli. Since the flooding, owner Pam Wheat and her staff have been dropping off meals to folks who lost everything, including refrigerators and stoves.
Not content to just drop off meals, Wheat has decided to do something special for the community.
“Today and tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., we’ve offered these folks to take a break from the cleanup, come into our restaurant, and have a home-cooked meal,” Wheat said.
KDKA-AM’s Larry and John talked to Wheat about their offer to feed flood victims for the next two days, and how bad the devastation is in Bridgeville.
“We’ve been giving out 50-plus meals a day, and we’ve had no problem distributing them within 15 minutes,” Wheat said.
So why is Wheat going to the expense to feed all of these people for free? She says it’s not just about helping people get a meal, but because of her experience with the flood.
“As that creek raised, it spilled out of the banks, came across the road, and into our property,” Wheat said. “At one point, we were getting ready to evacuate, thinking we were also going to be flood victims.”
The water stopped within two feet of the building, sparing the deli and catering business that has been prepping for weeks for the Vintage Grand Prix. Now, they’re adding a few more meals to their prep to help feed a tired Bridgeville.
Wheat said that the victims, many of them customers of PJ’s over the past 35 years, are grateful for what the deli is doing, but she says it’s still not enough.
“I go down there hoping I’ll feel better about doing something, and I come home and am so upset that I cry for an hour just looking at what they’re going through,” she said.
In the end, Wheat is getting something more than money for the help she is giving.
“I have been thanked and blessed more times in the last six days than in my entire life,” she said.
PJ’s Deli is located at 700 Bower Hill Road in Bridgeville. Flood victims can come down between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, and Wednesday, July 17 for a free meal and a reprieve from cleanup.