GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The owner and several staff members of a restaurant in Toledo, Ohio, traveled to Submarine Base New London and served a made-to-order lunch to the crew of Los Angles-class submarine USS Toledo (SSN 769) July 9.
The visit was the second time Tony Packo Jr., the owner of Tony Packo's Cafe, and staff made a trip to feed the crew of his hometown's namesake submarine.
"This group of men here does such an incredible job, the least we can do is come down here and show our support," said Packo.
This cafe connection began more than one year ago when Electronics Technician 1st Class Robert Smalley got hungry for a taste of home while his submarine was in the shipyard in Norfolk, Va. The Toledo native spoke with a manager while on vacation in his hometown and inquired about shipping some of the food to the boat to lift the spirits of the crew. Instead, the owner and staff decided to make a trip to personally feed the crew while they were in dry-dock.
"It was a very big deal for the crew," said Smalley, who recounted that he had gone to Tony Packo's since he was 1-year old. "We had been in the shipyard for about a year, and it was kind of dragging... [the Tony Packo experience] really did improve morale for the next month or so."
The cafe, established in 1932, gained notoriety when it was mentioned in several episodes of the popular television show M*A*S*H, which ran 1972-1983.
During this visit, Packo and his crew served hot dogs smothered with mustard, diced onions and secret sauce and spooned out bowls of chicken chili. They also brought along their "Mother of All Hot Dogs (MOADs)," which are the size of four hot dogs.
"We're thrilled that Tony Packo could come down," said Cmdr. Paul Davis, Toledo's executive officer, who ate a MOAD and two dogs. "This is such a great deal for the crew. We have a really good relationship, and I'm humbled by their generosity to come down and do this for us," said Davis, of Harrisonburg, Va.
Cmdr. Douglas Recap, Toledo's commanding officer, presented Packo and his staff with a plaque to express the crew's gratitude.
"This is a very tangible way the crew realizes how much the general public stands by and loves what we do," said Davis. "You can lose sight of that when you're chipping paint or when you're cleaning stuff. But when folks come out and they fly out from Toledo just to share this with us, just to say thanks; it touches each of us."
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.