Local Restaurants Defy the Fire to Keep Meals Coming

An officer enjoys lunch at Duke’s Malibu during a break from patrol.

From steaks at Duke’s to slices at D’Amore’s, Malibu restaurants opened their doors to first responders and residents alike this week to help feed the hungry in the city.

“People who stayed behind in Malibu—[it] was kind of dire straits,” Duke’s Malibu general manager Jimmy Chavez explained. “They didn’t have food, they didn’t have water … people were rolling the dice and kind of just going for it.”

On Friday, the Woolsey Fire bore down on Malibu and the city enacted a mandatory evacuation—which many residents disobeyed. Since evacuation orders meant anyone who left could not re-enter, those who stuck it out quickly began running out of food, not to mention the thousands of emergency responders who were working long hours across the city.

On Saturday, D’Amore’s location on Pacific Coast Highway near La Costa Beach was open and serving up pies to locals, firefighters and anyone who needed a bite.

By Sunday, Duke’s had opened its doors, together with the likes of Nobu, Tramonto and businesses at the foot of Rambla Pacifico. 

Across town in Malibu West, the owners of Kristy’s at Trancas Country Market offered up their fresh produce and perishables for residents to cook up. Two groups in the western part of the city took up Greg Bashant and Kristy Apana’s offer, using Kristy’s produce—including lobster, steak, fresh veggies and more—and cooking meals for dozens, including many first responders. Meals were served at a home in Malibu West and at the Malibu West Beach Club, which has been used since Friday as a makeshift shelter and gathering place.

“People have been getting together and cooking dinner—maybe there were 40 for dinner,” Lynda Riley, who with her husband owns a home in Malibu, said Wednesday. Riley had been in and out of the Malibu West Beach Club over the past several days, helping make coffee and sharing supplies. “We’ve had people come here who haven’t eaten for two or three days. We’re leaving the door open for the sheriff’s deputies and firemen to come in for the showers—Albuquerque firemen came in who hadn’t showered in six days.”

At Duke’s, a Sunday night buffet served a crowd of between 125 and 150, including 80 firefighters, who were brought down to the restaurant by a local fireman.

“It ended up being a really powerful, really cool night to be a part of,” Chavez said. “It was awesome; really awesome.”

Chevez said once the restaurant received a surprise delivery in the midst of the fire, they knew they could start serving food. 

“We actually received a delivery yesterday,” the general manager described on Sunday evening. “I was almost ready to lock up and a delivery showed up, because they were here for Pepperdine; they had all the kids. We accepted an order … today [would have been] the cusp of, ‘Can we cook it?’ so I’m glad to have another [shipment].” 

What they did cook was all perishable—including New York steaks, fillets, tri-tip, chicken, ribs, Caesar salad and bread, plus water, wine and soft drinks. 

Throughout the rest of the week, Duke’s was open for buffet-style lunches and dinners, serving as a gathering place for locals to charge phones and to recharge, meeting neighbors and sharing news. 

“Everyone was just really, really grateful for each other. Everyone was grateful for the firefighters, the firefighters were grateful to be fed, and it was just a cool cool thing,” Chavez said.