Continuing FE&S’ focus on industry veterans engaged in philanthropic activities, this month John Spicer of Crest Restaurant Equipment & Supplies in Virginia Beach, Va., discusses Camp Grom. The expansive adventure park and recreation center was built specifically for children with disabilities and their families, as well as for wounded warriors, fallen warriors and their families. It opens this month.

FE&S: How did the Camp Grom project come about?

JS: A longtime customer and friend, Bruce Thompson, of Gold Key PHR, which manages many hotels in this area, reached out to me and others inJohn SpicerJohn Spicer the community for help on the project. Twelve years ago, Bruce’s son, Josh, came down with ALS and he started the JT Walk for him. The three-mile walk now draws about 10,000 people along the oceanfront and we have participated in it for the last 10 years. My wife and I, my daughter Emily, and even many people from our company and their families, participate in the walk.

Shortly after Bruce started the walk, we supported him in the development of a playground for severely handicapped children. Then, about two and a half years ago, Bruce approached me and others who have been very involved in his philanthropic activities for help in building a new adventure park, not only for severely handicapped children and their families, but also for wounded warriors and their families. Norfolk, Va., is home to a naval base, and we have a large military presence in this market, so we knew we wanted to do something for them as well.

FE&S: What was the response to the project from the equipment and supplies community?

JS: The generosity, support and kindness from our vendors and other dealer partners really demonstrated the true partnership of our industry. A lot of us might hear more about the negative stories, but the response we had for this project was really amazing. It was so gratifying to see everyone step up right away and donate equipment after hearing about the project at a Pride meeting.

From our own team, my daughter, Emily, as well as Karen Ricketts, James Marshall and Tim Baines helped out tremendously on the project. We also had support from Robin Nelson, Bobby Brockett and Fred Perry at Foodservice Solutions Design Consultants with the kitchen design and layout.

FE&S: What is the layout of the park and cafe?

JS: The park will be pretty amazing; there are about four or five pavilions with different activities, including a waterpark, zip lines, archery, and other activities like fishing, wakeboarding and even surfing on the lake. The cafe will offer food like burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches during the day, but we also designed it with the capability to do full dinners and events.

To accommodate special functions for the wounded warriors and handicapped children and their families throughout the year, we made sure our kitchen design and equipment package could handle banquet-style service.