About a half-mile from the site of the collapse, volunteers have been working around the clock in the kitchen of Surf-n-Sides, a kosher beachside bistro at the town’s community center, which has been a gathering place for families and local authorities since the building collapse.
Eli Ginsburg, the owner of the bistro, and his friend Joe Zevuloni, 48, a local activist, repurposed the restaurant’s kosher kitchen to prepare more than 3,000 meals a day, with help from chefs and volunteers in orange vests. Through monetary donations, they have been able to pay for more than $10,000 worth of fresh supplies every day, churning out dishes with white sea bass, sesame chicken tenders, teriyaki salmon and rib-eye steak. Warm pastelitos are put into white paper bags and closed with a sticker that says, “Strong For Surfside.” Many police officers guarding the collapse site added the sticker to their uniforms.
The community center has become a hub of grief as families duck in and out, mourning inside and greeting the volunteers with hugs before they seek a meal. The tragedy is personal for Mr. Zevuloni and Mr. Ginsburg, too, who lost friends in the rubble.
At lunchtime, Mr. Zevuloni and several volunteers carry out boxes of food on golf carts lent by nearby hotels to deliver meals to rescuers on the site day after day. It’s unnerving, he said when he returned on Wednesday afternoon. The rescuers look worn down by the search and recovery. Moments of gratitude and grief that Mr. Zevuloni witnesses envelop him at the site, like when he saw that a homemade dessert for rescuers was delivered by someone who lost a family member, with a note that said it was their relative’s favorite.
“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “But we’re going to be here until we’re not needed anymore.”