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Restaurant honoring veterans, service members opens amid pandemic

Posted at 6:30 PM, May 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-24 18:30:06-04

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — When guests walk into Patriot's Bar and Grill, one of the first things they see is a photo of Cpl. Frank Gross, alongside his medals.

Cpl. Gross was killed in action July 16, 2011, while serving in Afghanistan at just 25 years old.

"He was just an exceptional young man who loved his family, loved his God and loved the military," said his father Craig Gross.

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Gross said his son always wanted to join the military, looking up to both his grandfathers who served. But before he did, he completed his education, earning a master's degree.

"Even though he had his masters degree, he could have gone in as an officer he went in as a non-commissioned officer," said Gross. "He wanted to work his way up to become an officer."

Now, his family makes sure his legacy is kept alive.

"Memorial Day for us is almost 24/7 365 days a year," said Gross.

The same place where his son's photo sits on the wall, is also where Gross is a managing partner helping to open the restaurant right as everything shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. It filled a spot at Tarpon Woods Golf Club.

"You felt like your hands were tied," said Gross.

But despite the struggle, Gross said they had a good month in April. They leaned on carry out and carried with them Gross' reputation from his previous business, Frankie's Patriot BBQ.

Gross said a veterans focused nonprofit bought gift certificates to give to first responders which also helped.

"Our whole emphasis is the military community veteran community and gold star families and blue star families," he said. "We’re hoping this will be a place where people who kind of want to flaunt their patriotism can come and wave the flag while they’re eating."

This Memorial Day Weekend, Gross is reminding people of its meaning, explaining this weekend is a tough one for Gold Star families.

"Remember freedom is not free. There was a price that was paid for us to be able to live as Americans," he said.