“Mike Quillen and Mike Gowan have been providing hospitality and goodwill services in Sarasota and Manatee through Gecko’s Charitable Giving Program since their first restaurant opened in 1992. They’ve supported Sarasota 4-H, the YMCA Youth Shelter, Share Our Strength’s No Kids Hungry campaign, the veterans of Operation Second Chance and area schools.
Last year, Gecko’s received the Barry Jones Business Partner Empowerment Award from the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and Manatee School Board for its free meal cards, encouraging students’ good grades and attendance. Gecko’s employees often wear T-shirts that say, ‘Help one person at a time and always start with the person next to you.’ And just this year, Quillen helped to found and is chair of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit that provides funds for SCSO employees facing personal catastrophe.
‘These people put on a bulletproof vest every day,’ says Quillen, who adds that he and Gowan feel a debt of gratitude and responsibility to the officers and community that have supported Gecko’s restaurants for 24 years. ‘The better we do, the more we can do.’ —Chelsey Lucas”