Fat Tuna plans to raise funds for Gulf states

Restaurateur Michelle Parrill of Fat Tuna Grill and radio exec Crystal Layton of FM-106.9, “The X,” will hold a charity auction at Fat Tuna on Saturday, Sept. 17, to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“That was supposed to be our ‘Welcome Back Locals’ night, so we decided to do this instead,” Parrill pointed out. There will still be a buffet, starting at 9 p.m., but DJs from X-106.9 will be on hand to broadcast a live remote as well.

Layton said they’d probably show up around 7 p.m. to play some music and otherwise entertain early arrivals, possibly with some trivia and X-106.9 giveaways. They’ll have a list of donated auction items at that time, as well, to give prospective bidders a bit of a preview.

Registration for the auction will open at 8 p.m., an hour before the auction itself starts. Parrill said they’d be asking a $5 donation for bidding paddles at that time.

Auctioneer Dennis Daniels will do the honors, and all proceeds will go directly to the American Red Cross.

Layton called New Orleans one of her favorite places to visit, particularly noting the Court of the Two Sisters and the beautiful architectural details inside the old brick buildings of the French Quarter.

She said she’d visited the city on a fairly regular basis — every two or three years — and for National Association of Broadcasters conventions (held at the city’s convention center, where thousands took refuge).

Layton said she suspected it will take years to put the city back together.

Parrill said one of her employees, Sarah Bettencourt, was from New Orleans and had returned there before Katrina.

They just found out earlier this week she is fine, and Bettencourt had returned to the area. Bettencourt’s home in New Orleans had been destroyed, according to Parrill.

“We just wanted to do something, make a difference,” Parrill said of the auction. “Just watching everything that’s going on down there — it could have been here.”

So, she and Layton have been making the calls. “A lot of people have told me they’ve already donated,” Parrill said. But many local businesses have already agreed to put up items for auction.

Although X-106.9 had helped other organizations with their benefits, Layton said they’d never initiated one of their own.

However, now that they have, they’ve set their goal considerably high — she said she hoped the event would bring in between $10,000 and $15,000 to help folks along the Gulf Coast.

And Fat Tuna has held benefits in the past, but Parrill expected this would probably be the biggest thing they’d done since the restaurant opened.

“This has had a major impact on a lot of people, and a lot of businesses have been willing to contribute and help out,” she said.

Layton said they tried to garner something for everyone, from golf packages to passes at local amusement/water parks.

Parrill noted contributions from Bethany Cycle & Fitness, Lord’s Landscaping, Al Casapulla’s Restaurant and Deli, the Hello Gorgeous salon, Lovin’ Life Limos, the Oceanova spa, Beach Cottage furnishings and fine art, Alice Klein, Sea Crest, Bethany Beach Wears, Bear Trap, Paula’s Decorating Café and Draperies to Sea.

She said she’d left messages at many other businesses as well — they were still looking for auction items, she offered as a reminder.

Again, registration for the benefit opens at 8 p.m., on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Fat Tuna, Route 26 in Millville, just west of and across from the Millville Volunteer Fire Hall.