Sheriff Awards Inaugural Community Impact Award
NEWS RELEASE 20-007 - JANUARY 7, 2020
Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight today presented the agency’s first ever Community Partner Award to Mike Quillen, co-owner of Gecko’s Hospitality Group.
Quillen is a Sarasota local who graduated from Riverview High School before attending State College of Florida and New College. He and his business partner, Mike Gowan, opened the original Gecko’s restaurant at the Landings in Sarasota in 1992. Gecko’s Hospitality has received recognition from the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation with Florida’s Restaurant Neighbor & Cornerstone Humanitarian Award for five consecutive years. They have been recognized by local publications including Biz941 and SRQ Magazine, who in 2018, named Quillen and Gowan the ‘LocalPreneur of the Year.’ Quillen and the Gecko’s team are key supporters of Sarasota and Manatee County schools and several local non-profits including the Y Youth Shelter, Operation Second Chance, Sarasota County 4-H Foundation and UnidosNow.
On Tuesday, Quillen became first to receive the Community Partner Award, which was created to recognize a company, organization, or individual for their contributions in support of the sheriff's office's mission and the citizens of Sarasota County. Quillen serves on the sheriff’s advisory board and is credited with working with other local business owners to create the SCSO Charitable Foundation. The goal of the nonprofit is to assist individual employees of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office who are experiencing extraordinary personal or family need. Since its inception a few years ago, the foundation has helped several sheriff’s office members through personal and financial loss, and major medical expenses due to serious illness.
In April 2019, Quillen provided meals for more than 25 agency members who staged for more than 10 hours at a critical incident, in full gear. Because the crime scene was active and secure, Quillen arranged for a cab company to transport the meals to the scene so first responders were able to have a meal. In addition to his day to day support, Quillen contributes annually to the agency’s Corporate SWAT Challenge which benefits local youth programs.
“I am honored to present this inaugural award to Mike Quillen and the Gecko’s Hospitality team,” commented Sheriff Knight. “The Charitable Foundation that Mike helped create has impacted so many lives at the sheriff’s office and their contributions are beyond anything we can every repay. Mike is a friend, an advocate, and a staunch supporter of first responders. We could not ask for a better partnership.”