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Hagerstown restaurant owners raise funds for free clinic

January 26, 2011|By CHRIS COPLEY | chrisc@herald-mail.com
  • Paul Deputy is co-owner of The Gourmet Goat and GGs Restaurant & Martini Bar in downtown Hagerstown. The restaurant is the site of a fundraiser Sunday to benefit the Community Free Clinic.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — The list of things a community needs for survival is short. High on that list is access to affordable health care.

And for those in Hagerstown without health insurance, the Community Free Clinic is a godsend. The clinic provides medical care at no charge to clients.

“We feel very adamant about this: The Community Free Clinic is a great feature to have in the community,” said Paul Deputy, co-owner of the Gourmet Goat and GG’s Restaurant & Martini Bar, a downtown Hagerstown restaurant. “We’ve used them ourselves in the past. Now I have insurance, but (other) people are losing their insurance every day.”

The Gourmet Goat will host its second annual Wine and Cheese Silent (and Lively) Auction on Sunday to raise funds for the clinic. Boosting the local community and its institutions is important to Deputy, 50, and Steve Cook, 46, who have owned the Gourmet Goat for 10 years. In addition to their wine-and-cheese fundraisers for the Community Free Clinic, Deputy and Cook held a children’s breakfast with Santa in December.

They also hosted a business-development meeting between downtown business owners and city officials in January.

“They went out of their way to help us that meeting,” said Kathy Saxman, development funding specialist with the City of Hagerstown. “They opened up on a night when they’re usually closed.”

For Deputy, it’s all about building up the area where they’ve put down roots.

“We figure that we’re investing in the community,” Deputy said. “We’re buying our building, so why not be a part of the community?”

Partners in business and in life, they had earlier co-owned several businesses in Montgomery County, Md., before opening the Gourmet Goat in Hagers-town in November 2000.

“When we first started, we had a lot of negative feedback from city residents: ‘You’ll never make it,’” Deputy said. “That was the wrong thing to say to us.”

The pair worked hard to make their sandwich shop on East Franklin Street successful. Cook headed up the kitchen; Deputy managed the front of the house. They developed a growing clientele.

Business was so good that, within a few years, the pair felt the need to expand. They bought a building a half-block away on North Potomac Street and renovated it to suit their vision.

“It took two years because we did everything all at once. We totally gutted the whole place,” Deputy said. “We did a lot of the demolition ourselves. We’d work in the restaurant during the day, then tear things down in the new building in the evening. And then we had some guys clean up everything during the day.”

Deputy said he and Cook designed the new restaurant themselves. The new Gourmet Goat has a sandwich-and-salad shop inside the front door and a larger, bar-and-restaurant space called GG’s Restaurant & Martini Bar, behind that.

The restaurant owners said they decided to stay in downtown despite doubters who said downtown businesses couldn’t make it. Deputy said he and Cook like downtown Hagerstown.

“We wouldn’t have bought downtown if we didn’t believe in downtown,” Deputy said.

CFC program director Adam Roberson said the clinic provides a vital service to local residents. He said the clinic had 15,000 patient visits last year and provided general care, acute care — similar to emergency room visits — lab services, prescriptions and more. All free to patients.

But free health care isn’t really free. Dozens of physicians volunteer their time at the clinic, but staff members are paid, and prescriptions and medical supplies must be purchased. Plus there are operating expenses like utilities, liability insurance and other insurances. Someone has to provide funding for all that.

This Sunday, Deputy and Cook will do their part. The Community Fee Clinic fundraiser will feature wine and local cheeses for tasting, plus a silent auction of at least 40 items, from “Phantom of the Opera” tickets to restaurant certificates to jewelry to a time share in Florida.

All auction items have been donated, Deputy said, so all proceeds benefit the clinic.

Robin Roberson, executive director of the clinic, said Deputy and Cook also donate everything for the event — wine, cheese, their time and their restaurant.

“It just goes to show where their heart is. This is coming out of their pocket,” she said.


If you go  ...

What: Gourmet Goat Wine & Cheese Social and Silent Auction

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30

Where: The Gourmet Goat and GG’s Restaurant & Martini Bar, 41 N. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

Cost: $15 admission at the door. Cash or check only.

Contact: For more information, call 301-790-2343 or go to www.cfcwc.com.

More: The admission fee provides hors d’oeuvres, one glass of wine and access to the auction. The event also features a cash bar, games of chance and door prizes.

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