Closed restaurant donates food to homeless shelter
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | March 20,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Sharon Russell, executive director of the Open Door Mission in Rutland, looks over desserts that would be served Tuesday night at the shelter, thanks to a major food donation from the closed South Station Restaurant.
South Station Restaurant closed for good Monday but the Rutland eatery’s owners served up hundreds of meals for those in need.
A day after the South Main Street restaurant closed under mysterious circumstances, owner William Gillam Jr. donated all of his food stores to the Open Door Mission less than a mile away on Park Street.
“I thought it was best to give it to someone rather than throw it away,” said Gillam, a former city alderman known for his support of the local business community. “We might as well have something good come out of this.”
Gillam owned and cooked at the restaurant since 2006. He said Monday there was no chance the restaurant would reopen.
The reason for the popular restaurant’s closing is unclear, though state and city officials said Monday the eatery owes delinquent taxes.
Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton said she estimates South Station owes the city $9,000 in local 1 percent rooms, meals and entertainment taxes. The state Department of Taxes, which collects a 9 percent tax on rooms and meals revenues, said the restaurant was not in good standing with the department.
But Sharon Russell, executive director of the city’s homeless shelter, said Tuesday she owed Gillam a debt of gratitude for the food he donated to the Mission.
“I think with all the bad things we have going on here, it’s nice to see something like that,” Russell said while surveying her food stores Tuesday.
The donation is sizable. The Mission filled the better part of a 6-foot-long freezer and two walk-in freezers, as well as numerous shelves, with food from the restaurant.
The homeless shelter has a reputation for serving good meals, but rarely has the menu boasted the fine cuts of beef, chicken, salmon and other meats added to its stores Tuesday.
The restaurant also donated cheeses, pre-made goods, stew and chowder stocks and a wide range of deserts including cheesecakes and chocolate cake.
“This is expensive stuff,” Russell said. “He’s not looking for sympathy, he just said ‘Look, I’ve got a lot of food. Can you use it?’ and I said ‘sure.’”
Russell, whose 40-bed shelter also serves as a soup kitchen that serves meals to anyone in need, said she estimated the food from the restaurant would provide more than 2,000 meals.
“It’s a lot and it won’t go to waste,” she said.