Albany business owner to treat service members - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany business owner to treat service members

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Like most of us, Sunel Merchant remembers what he was doing on September 11th, 2001.

"Everything was perfect and like we say 'too good to be true' and that's what happened, unfortunately," said Merchant.

But with Merchant, it was a little different.

He was working as a computer consultant for a Japanese bank and was in the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the hijacked plane hit it.

"All of a sudden I felt like I was on a walking escalator or something. I started moving forward with the whole building moving with me. That's the most helpless I've ever felt in my life," said Merchant.

As Merchant was going down a staircase to exit the North Tower, a firefighter was coming up and told him everything was going to be ok.

Little did he know that it wasn't and then the South Tower came down.

Merchant got out of the North Tower three minutes before the South Tower collapsed.

As Merchant made it home, his son asked a question that struck a nerve.

He asked him who was his favorite super hero.

"They are the good guys, they try to help people. They put their life in danger to save other people's life. Isn't that what the fire fighters and police people do," said Merchant.

That's when Merchant came up with the idea to let uniformed service men and women eat free at his restaurant on September 11th as a token of appreciation for what they do for the country.

"How many times do we stop and say thank you Mr. Fireman for the wonderful work that you do? How many times do you stop to thank a police officer for the wonderful work they do?"

Merchant believes he is living the American dream and he just wants to give back to those who protect his freedom.

Merchant has another Philly Connection in Alabama and he will be at that location, Sunday. 

He'll be at the Albany store on Ledo Road on September 13th and that's when first responders and service members will be able to eat free.

Merchant will also donate a portion of his proceeds from September 1st through 10th to the American Red Cross.

 

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