Brooksville residents raise money for landmark

Residents are struggling to make ends meet after a fire destroyed a Brooksville landmark.
 
But Saturday the Kiwanis Club is looking to change that, showing us family isn't always defined by blood. 
 
"It’s sad. We had a lot of good memories here,” said former waitress Paige Cross. “It’s hard to move on from it."
 
Memories are all that’s left of Papa Joes, a restaurant where employees tell us they were more like family.
 
“I remember Loretta, Lindsey, and Barbara all pregnant at the same time and trying to get in there to make your salads for your customers,” Cross said. “With all the bellies, [I] was like, ‘Oh boy.’” 
 
In January, fire destroyed the entire building, leaving the community in shock.  
 
"The fire was devastating,” said Loretta Lambright. “I mean we had long time veterans who worked here, some of them all the way back from the beginning 33 years ago. We had widows and single moms and people that this was their source of everything."
 
"I was totally unprepared, financially, emotionally," said Cross.
 
Cross, a mother of two little girls, said she is only getting by with help from the community 
 
"Money that came through from all the people supporting us in the fundraisers literally put food on my table and paid the electric bill," said Cross. 
 
Employees held a yard sale in February to sell some of their belongings to make ends meet. To Cross’ and other employees’ surprise, past customers showed up in droves.
 
"There was truck loads and truck loads,” said Cross. “I mean, there were cars lined up and down the street."
 
Paige knows in this tight knit community the helping hand will only continue.
 
"I know they're going to be here to support us when we reopen,” said Cross. “I know they're going to be the first ones lined up at the door."
 
The fundraiser for Papa Joe's  is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Brooksville.
 
The event includes an Italian dinner, a silent auction, raffle and music. The cost for dinner is a minimum $5 donation.
 
You can get tickets at the Red Mule Pub, Kiwanis Club and Country Kitchen in Brooksville.
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