Screenshot of Facebook Video of Volunteers Making Pizza at Straw Hat Pizza in Gilroy, California

Gilroy Pizzeria Opens Past Midnight for First Responders at Garlic Festival Shooting

Straw Hat Pizza stays up past midnight cooking and delivering pizza to first responders after the Garlic Festival shooting.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting broke out this Sunday in northern California, taking lives of two children and one man. This tragedy kept pizzeria owner Raj Nayyar up past midnight when he got a phone call from Gilroy’s city manager Gabriel Gonzalez who asked him if he could open his pizzeria to feed the first responders.

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

Nayyar said that when he drove back from his home to his pizzeria, Straw Hat Pizza, in Gilroy, he put out a call for help in running his pizzeria. Within hours his family and friends were in the kitchen making pizzas, chicken wings, and more.

The pizzeria delivered food to first responders at four locations throughout Gilroy that night, and Nayyar also donated more pizza to first responders and victims the following Monday.

Nayyar especially wanted to give back because he was painfully aware he could’ve been at the festival when the shooting occurred, and that when he heard of the news at 5:45 p.m. he frantically called everyone he knew would be at the festival.

He said that his pizzeria is a community safehold: “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. Whatever people need we’re here.”