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Garden Social remembers close friend and 9/11 victim

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Dozens spent a warm May afternoon at Garden Social in East Meadow to honor Kevin O’Reilly, who died responding to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Manhattan.

Members of the East Meadow Fire Department stood with the FDNY and the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums for a plaque dedication on May 11 for O’Reilly.

“Kevin’s spirit, his soul, is in Garden Social,” said David Boller, who runs the East Meadow beer garden and restaurant with partners Bob Russo, James Paloumbis and Kevin Liebov.

Boller and the former two met at SUNY Oneonta, where O’Reilly was the president of their fraternity Phi Kappa Sigma. “He was the glue that held us all together,” Boller said.

O’Reilly served with Engine 207/Ladder Company 110 of the New York City Fire Department and was assigned to Engine 37/Ladder 40 in Brooklyn on Sept. 11 when he died responding to the attacks. He was 28.

Before becoming a firefighter, Boller recalled his fraternity brother’s “entrepreneurial spirit.” O’Reilly, who grew up in Pearl River, New York, owned a consultancy watershed management business on graduating from SUNY Oneonta.

O’Reilly guided Boller in 1998 when he was starting his first business, a music downloading service called Spiral Frog. Boller said that it has always been a 20-year dream of his to open a restaurant. When he finally did, he said, he wanted to dedicate it to O’Reilly.

After the dedication, Garden Social hosted its first beer festival and offered guests a souvenir glass and a taste of beers from a variety of beers from local breweries like Blue Point, Ommegang and Bayside. Musicians Mike Duca and J.D. Leonard performed for the crowd at the festival.

A portion of the proceeds are going toward FDNY 343 Ride, a nonprofit that raises funds to provide wounded veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces with assistance toward all terrain wheel chairs, guide dogs, medical bills and housing, among other services.