INTRIGUING COMMUNITY SUPPORTER

Napa firefighter/paramedic Rodger Collinson loves food. When on duty, he is often the crew appointed firehouse  chef. When off duty, he’s  combing the Napa Valley  for new restaurants and undiscovered eats. “I’m passionate  about Napa’s culinary world,” said the Napa native. “Our food scene is what makes us unique and different. People come from all over the world for our cuisine.” So, when the pandemic threatened to undermine the region’s restaurant scene, Collinson took action. He formed a Facebook group – ‘Help Support Napa Valley Restaurants’ – that quickly amassed more than 14K members, many of whom actively post, review, and share tips, menus, and other details daily about how the community can assist local restaurants during these trying times. On average, the group has 50,000 posts, comments, and reactions every month. It has become the area’s ‘go-to’ reference point for where to find a particular type of cuisine, who has the best brunch or burger, or who’s open for inside dining or home delivery. Collinson’s effort was initially intended to encourage his fellow first responders to support local eateries while on duty, but “the Napa community took over,” he said. He and a friend, City of Napa employee Kendra Bruno, administrate and monitor the site, on which negative reviews are not allowed and are swiftly removed. “This is a place for positivity,” said Collinson. “People are looking for  ways to help each other in this world right now. Our group offers a positive light during this difficult time. We have a lot of family-owned businesses that rely on a steady flow of customers. If we as a community are not thoughtful in our support and approach, we could lose many of these places. We need to make sure they survive this.” The group page’s popularity has grown to become a home-grown resource that will live long past the pandemic.

 

Article By: Fran Miller