Farmers Insurance agent and Collingswood resident Jason Rameriz organized a wrestling-style food drive to benefit the Food Bank of South Jersey.
By Matt Skoufalos | October 7, 2016
For the next two weeks, five Collingswood restaurants—Constellation Collective, Grooveground, The Pop Shop, The Tortilla Press, and Villa Barone—are going to the mat for hungry families in South Jersey.
Friday kicks off the Collingswood Charity Fall Brawl, a pro-wrestling-themed food drive to benefit the Food Bank of South Jersey.
Sponsored by longtime Collingswood resident Jason Rameriz of the Rameriz Farmers Insurance Agency, the contest pits a handful of borough eateries in a race to bring in the most donations between October 7 and 22.
The winning restaurant gets a year’s worth of bragging rights—and a “real-deal championship belt, Rameriz said.
“We’re very lucky to have as many restaurants around here as we do because it makes it easy,” he said. “All five of these restaurants were onboard before [the event] was on paper.”
Rameriz got the idea from a fellow insurance agent, Glenn Jacobs, better known to WWE fans as the wrestler Kane. To incentivize a five-restaurant food drive in his Tennessee coverage area, Jacobs volunteered to be a celebrity guest waiter at the establishment that collected the most donations in a similar event this June.
Rameriz may not have Jacobs’ star power, but he does have a hometown with a competitive spirit and the will to rally for a worthy cause.
“We have such a sense here of a village,” said Emily Talley, Rameriz’s community engagement specialist.
“This is a great way to positively impact our community and the communities around us because the Food Bank ultimately serves a larger community in South Jersey,” Talley said.
The participants are eager to get the competition off the ground, too, with many walking a line between confident and conservative trash talk. All agreed The Pop Shop seems like an odds-on favorite, and owner Connie Correia stepped into the spirit of the event, giving competitors a taste of her mic skills.
“We are looking forward to winning,” Correia said. “We are going to win. We are ready to win.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Lindsey Ferguson of Constellation Collective.
“We’re super-stoked to be able to participate. Lending an air of competition to it for a good cause heightens the fun,” she said.
Grooveground co-owner Chris Rocco said his coffee shop is comfortable being a dark horse contestant.
“In the end, it doesn’t matter as long as everyone gets what they need,” Rocco said.
“[But] Grooveground’s clients bring it. Our customers always come through.”
“The more cans the better,” said Tortilla Press owner Mark Smith.
“Part of our original mission statement is to support the local community, and we’ve held consistent with that for 14 years.”
The Rameriz agency will also be collecting monetary donations for the Food Bank during the drive, of which Farmers Insurance will match up to $500. Residents who want to play along on social media can use the hashtag #collsfallbrawl or visit the event page on Facebook. (Click here for a list of the food bank’s most-needed items.)
As a wrestling fan, Rameriz offered his take on the odds of each restaurant winning the challenge (based on their level of pre-contest smack talk), and which pro wrestler he thinks most embodies their spirit in the contest.
- The Pop Shop (2-1) – Hulk Hogan. “Heavy favorite. A strong presence, and a strong following in and out of the ring.”
- Tortilla Press (4-1) – The Undertaker. “Keeps showing up all the time. You don’t expect him, but then boom, he shows up, and he does great.”
- Grooveground (4-1) – Stone Cold Steve Austin. “Attitude. He just appeared one day and hung around for a while. He put his stamp down that he was going to run things.”
- Constellation Collective (9-1) – The American Dream/Dusty Rhodes. “A common man; hard-working, blue-collar, but he had that champion quality about him.”
- Villa Barone (12-1) – Roddy Piper. “Overlooked. With his attitude and his mic abilities, he could be the good guy you needed or the bad guy you needed. He was the guy that everybody could go to.”
Final predictions: “I think it’s going to come down to Constellation and The Pop Shop,” Rameriz said. “I really think Constellation Collective is going to come in from nowhere and take this over, but Pop Shop has the horsepower to pull this off. I’m so excited.”
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Undertaker credit: Felipe Bascunan: https://goo.gl/IG02YI
Stone Cold Steve Austin credit: Miguel DIscart: https://goo.gl/4ATBVd
Hulk Hogan credit: John McKeon: https://goo.gl/ee0chV
Dusty Rhodes credit: Wikimedia user Emikako: https://goo.gl/5vtcRx
Rowdy Roddy Piper credit: Photobucket: https://goo.gl/a9Bufh