Celebrating victories at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar’s Bellmore location has been a longstanding tradition for the Kennedy High School baseball program, and even though the spring sports season was cancelled, the 2020 Cougars were recognized by their go-to restaurant.
On Thursday night, Applebee’s stepped up to the plate and honored the program’s 25 athletes and coaches with a virtual pasta dinner as a last hoorah of the baseball season that never was due to Covid-19. The Cougars picked up their entrees at the Bellmore location and then joined a Zoom meeting where they enjoyed their meals together.
“At Applebee’s, we are committed to giving back to the communities we serve and after hearing the Kennedy baseball team could not take part in their tradition of celebrating their victories at our restaurant, we knew we had to do what we could to give this team one last celebration,” said Kurt Pahlitzsch, Vice President of Operations for Doherty Enterprises, which owns and operates Applebee’s of Bellmore. “We hope the team enjoys this meal, and we look forward to celebrating their future accomplishments with us at Applebee’s,” he added.
The idea to acknowledge the team came after several members of Applebee’s public relations department read the Herald’s article “Bellmore-Merrick athletes reflect on no sports,” which appeared in the May 7 issue. In the article, Kennedy senior pitcher/first baseman Chris Costaro mentioned heading to Applebee’s after winning a game would be one of the things he’d miss the most this spring.
“It came as kind of a shock,” Costaro said of the Applebee’s team party. “It was really cool what they did for us.”
Entrees offered were Three Cheese Chicken Penne and Chicken Tenders with Fries.
Kennedy varsity coach Mike Gattus has been a member of the staff for five years and said post-game meals serve as a key ingredient to team bonding and camaraderie. “Going to Applebee’s after games has become part of our team’s culture,” Gattus said. “It was cool to have Applebee’s reach out to us and provide another great experience for the kids. It was such a nice gesture.”
Added Pahlitzsch: “The Applebee's team knows how great the end of the school year can be, especially for senior students and celebrating the last game, going to prom and walking a graduation is a rite of passage the class of 2020 will miss. We hope this small celebration will bring some joy to this team during a confusing and unprecedented time.”