A big plate of nachos is hard to pass up.
Marcus Anderson, owner and operator of Split-Fire Grill in Bradenton, will attempt to make the biggest serving of nachos ever next Saturday, Cinco de Mayo, during Main Street Live. The record to beat: a 4,689-pound heap prepared in Kansas in 2012.
It is a tall order, but Anderson is going to get some practice in beforehand.
This Sunday, he will prepare plates of nachos for the homeless at Joseph Storehouse Restoration Center. Advertisements for the free meal, which includes desert and a drink, have gone up all around Bradenton, and more than 200 are expected to attend. The event is sponsored by the Bower Foundation.
The Bower Foundation is a non-profit founded by Vince Bower, a Bradenton property manager and real estate investor. This event follows a Fourth of July barbecue meal for the homeless last year and a pizza party the year before.
Bower's philanthropic efforts started out informally. About 8 years ago, Bower and a group of landlords, property managers, realtors, lenders and bankers started a drive to collect shoes for children in need around Christmas.
The foundation was established in 2016, and now hosts a shoe drive and multiple free food events annually. The last drive produced 802 pairs of shoes. In addition, the foundation awards a $500 scholarship to one student from St. Petersburg Lakewood High, one from Braden River High and one from Lakewood Ranch High each year.
Giving food to those less fortunate is a Bower family tradition.
"We would just buy a couple hundred hot dogs and go downtown and sit on the corner and serve hot dogs to those in need. We've always felt like we have an obligation and commitment to give back to the community," Bower said.
The events for the homeless also present a rare chance for people with very different lives to mingle.
"The cool thing is we get to socialize with these people where a lot of times we wouldn't have that opportunity. A lot of times these are people like you and I. I've met doctors from Cuba, housewives that developed a drinking problem. Some of their stories are very sad," Bower said.
Anderson is a familiar sight at the Bradenton Farmers' Market, where he serves filet mignon sandwiches and his signature farmers' market sandwich with eggplant and ingredients from local vendors. He cooked for the July 4 barbecue for the homeless last year.
"It's a great feeling," Anderson said. "They can't do for themselves for whatever their reasons may be, each of them different. Most of them aren't permanently homeless."
Anderson's attempt to top the Guinness World Record next Saturday will benefit the Bower Foundation and another local charity, Feeding Empty Little Tummies. At the event, witnesses can score a plate full of nachos for a donation of any amount.
All of the money raised will go back into the community.
On Friday, Anderson was awaiting a 10-pallet delivery of nacho chips from Sam's Club. He estimates that the nacho pile will be 80 to 100 feet in length, three feet wide and two feet in high. Anderson will video tape and document the nacho creation to submit for the world record title.
Details: Nacho extravaganza for the homeless: 3-6 p.m. Sunday. Joseph Storehouse Restoration Center Bower Foundation 1027 Ninth St. W., Bradenton.
Cinco de Mayo nacho pile: Nacho assembly starts at 5:30 p.m. and food will be served at 6:30 p.m. May 5. 400 12th St. W., Bradenton.