CRESTVIEW — There was a lunchtime wait staff with guns at the Crestview McAlister's Deli Jan. 29, and at the end of the three-hour shift, a trio of Crestview police officers participating in a Tip-A-Cop fundraiser earned nearly $500 for Special Olympics Florida.
Customers kept Officers Wanda Hulion, Sam Kimmons and Terry Mace busy cleaning tables, fetching drink refills and napkins, and occasionally assisting McAlister's professional waitstaff in carrying large orders to tables.
"I don't mind at all," Hulion, who had come in on her day off to raise money for Special Olympics, said as she brought customer Kathy Herzog extra napkins. "My only other job before becoming a police officer was being a waitress. It comes back real fast."
"What excellent service," Herzog said as she presented Hulion a $5 bill in exchange for the napkins. "Special Olympics is such a great cause, so this was a good excuse to come here for lunch."
For Officers Kimmons and Mace, the busy environment of a workday lunch crowd at the new restaurant provided a sense of what waitstaff at eateries throughout town have to contend with.
"It gets hot back there," Kimmons said as he and Mace emerged from the kitchen after cleaning a batch of dishes and trays they'd whisked off of tables.
"They're working out OK," McAlister's General Manager Kat Gonzalez said of her temporary waitstaff in blue. "We're glad to be part of this."
Outside in the parking lot, customers got to check out the police department's rescue vehicle, joined by McAlister's staff members who, their ranks temporarily supplemented by the police officers, grabbed a few minutes to look over — and climb inside — the mammoth truck.
At the end of the three-hour shift, the officers had received $470 in tips, while volunteers with the Crestview Citizens Police Academy Alumni organization sold Special Olympics T-shirts and ball caps at a table near the entrance.