Every Christmas, generous donors across the state purchase toys for children in need – at schools, businesses, churches and more. This Saturday, Bar 101 will put their own spin on this holiday tradition.
“We combine our Toys for Tots drive with our customer appreciation holiday party,” said owner Pete Matteo. “Our customers are so loyal and generous. They’re very charitable people.”
In return, Matteo and his staff will serve a complimentary buffet for all customers who drop off donations of new, unwrapped toys on Saturday, Dec. 15. Bar 101, which is located at 1478 Atwood Avenue, opens at 4 p.m. The buffet will be put out between 7:30 and 8 p.m., and Liam Day, also known as DJ Nook, will be spinning music throughout the evening.
“He’s really, really tremendous. He plays all over – in Boston and all throughout the northeast,” Matteo said of the DJ. “After everyone has something to eat, we turn it up from there and have a party after. It’s our staff and our customers’ favorite night of the year.”
It’s one of Matteo’s favorite nights as well. He says Johnston has been the ideal location, and he likes to give something back to the community that has been so welcoming to his business.
“Anytime you go into business, you’ve got to work hand in hand with the community, and we have the resources to do that. When we have hundreds of customers that come in on a regular basis, you reach a lot of people. That’s how it multiplies,” he said.
Last year, Bar 101 customers spread the word and the establishment filled five boxes with toys, which were later picked up by local Marine Corps representatives – the agency that runs the annual Toys for Tots campaign. Matteo is hopeful that Marines will be able to stop by Bar 101 on Saturday to see the response from local customers.
“As you can imagine, more than ever they need the help. It’s not just young kids; it’s all the way up to teenagers. All the families need help,” Matteo said.
Matteo would like to collect more gifts this year, but urged customers and newcomers not to worry about the price tags.
“I keep stressing to them that it doesn’t have to be a lot monetary wise. Even if you can bring smaller gifts and one nicer gift so we can reach more people,” he said. “It’s not about how much money you spend on the toy. The people receiving these gifts, they appreciate anything they get.”
Most of the visitors Saturday know the drill. They can bring in toys all week, or just come by this weekend for the free buffet. For families or individuals that want to donate but have never been to Bar 101, Matteo says the more, the merrier. He also said not to be deceived by the name – Bar 101 is a family restaurant.
“Sometimes the name of our place throws you off. It’s more than that – it’s a neighborhood place. It’s a family atmosphere,” he said. “It’s nice to see the children bring in toys and donate. Kids realize what Christmas is all about. That’s really nice.”
Toys are already coming in, and Matteo is confident that they will continue to pour in this weekend.
“Last year was unreal. I didn’t expect it to be as big as it was because it was our first year in business. We didn’t have the following that we do now,” he said. “Last year really surprised me and I expect it to be bigger next year. We have more customers and they’ll spread it to their friends.”