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Lani Kai delivers pizzas to area hospital staff, emergency workers

By Staff | Apr 22, 2020

Longtime Lani Kai bar manager Val Puccia dishes out the pizza made popular by Lani Kai General Manager Larry Puccia before the pandemic closed down most local restaurants. Larry has continued to make the pizza for local emergency workers, which Val has been delivering. PHOTO PROVIDED

With the knowledge that hospital staff and emergency workers have been putting their health at risk in doing their jobs responding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some people do what they do best in a crisis. For Lani Kai General Manager Larry Puccia, that means making his large, hand-tossed pizzas and delivering them to the Golisano Children’s Hospital, HealthPark emergency room, Fort Myers Beach Fire Department, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office substation.

Lani Kai Marketing Director Melissa Schneider said 20-year Lani Kai bartender and bar manager Val Puccia has been sure to have her husband Larry, a lifelong chef, make the extra pies, which are regularly sold at Lani Kai.

“We know the medical staff and first responders are putting so much on the line to help keep our community safe and healthy, they’re usually not thinking about stopping to take a break for a tasty treat,” Schneider said.

Schneider said that Larry making his pizza with fresh, local ingredients and his mother’s passed-down marinara recipe while Val has been hand-delivering them to those on the local frontlines of the pandemic. The boxes are always topped with kind, hand-written notes of encouragement and appreciation, Schneider said.

So far, they have hand-delivered, during different days and shifts, to staff at Golisano Children’s Hospital, Health Park Emergency room, Fort Myers Beach Fire Department, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office sub-station on Fort Myers Beach.

Larry and Val Puccia

They are working on the deliveries a couple of times a week.

“I just love people and always want to help,” Val said.

Puccia, along with head chef Pedro Tejeda, also recently hosted an Easter dinner feast for Lani Kai staff and their families at the hotel, serving hundreds of meals in to-go containers so staff could safely pick up and enjoy at home with their family and loved ones Easter Sunday.

“We continue to remain positive during this crisis, doing what we can to help staff and the community, and using this time to continue upgrading around our property,” Schneider said.

Lee Health president and CEO Larry Antonucci said the hospital has been the recipient of much generosity from local restaurants and businesses which have been donating food, as well as gloves and masks.

“The support of our community means the world to our heroes on the frontline,” Antonucci said.