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This Gay Bar Is Making 10,000 Free Meals for First Responders

Freddie's Gay Bar

Amazon is teaming with a local LGBTQ+ restaurant and bar to provide 10,000 meals to first responders and those at risk in Arlington and Alexandria, according to the Washington Blade. The online retailer is donating $200,000 to pay for the meals prepared and delivered by Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, while the local Crystal City Business District (BID) is donating containers and boxed water.

“During this unprecedented time, Amazon is working to not only support our frontline workers and first responders across the Arlington area, but also our most vulnerable neighbors in immediate need,” Brian Huseman, vice president for Amazon Public Policy, told the Washington Blade in a statement.

For the last two weeks of May, the meals will be donated to the Cooperative for a Hunger-Free Arlington, a group that works to ensure food assistance and other resources are available to residents in need. The meals themselves are taken directly from Freddie’s menu.

“For lunch we’re doing things like turkey sandwiches, ham sandwiches,” Freddie’s manager Tony Rivenbark said. “At dinner time we’re doing things like chicken pesto fettuccine, meat lasagna, and meatloaf. And we’re doing a percentage of those meals that are vegetarian.”

Located less than a mile from the Pentagon and self-described as “Northern Virginia's only LGBTQ, straight friendly restaurant and bar,” Freddie’s was hard-hit by Virginia’s decision to close restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. So when owner Fred Lutz was contacted by an Amazon official who wanted to partner with his restaurant to deliver 10,000 meals in May, he jumped at the chance. He also made sure that other restaurants in the area were included.

Owner Fred Lutz and his beach bar and restaurant are local legends. He was recognized as 2016's Outstanding Virginian for his work in the community. He also serves on the executive committee of the board of the BID and it was at his suggestion that the organization agreed to donate the containers and boxed water.

Opened in 2001, Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant is an eclectic mix of colors and décor.

“I just came in one day and started painting everything purple,” Freddie is quoted by Equality Virginia. “I was inspired by a little travel trailer I had in Rehoboth Beach with that color scheme.”

That diversity of color extends to his customers. While Freddie’s is at its heart a gay bar, it is also a fun destination for families and straight people.

“We have the most diverse clientele,” Freddie told Equality Virginia. “LGBT, straight, black, white, Hispanic—everyone shows up.”

The Crystal City area of Arlington is the location for Amazon’s new HQ2 second global headquarters, bringing an estimated 25 thousand jobs to the region. Amazon sees the decision to team with Freddie’s and BID as less about business but instead as one neighbor helping another in a time of need.

“We are proud to work alongside Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, a beloved local restaurant in our new neighborhood, to ensure that we’re thanking our neighbors who are keeping us safe, and caring for our neighbors who need extra support right now with hearty meals throughout May,” Huseman told the Washington Blade.

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