HOUSTON – A northwest Houston restaurant hoped to help the family of fallen Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal and honor his life Tuesday.
After one good deed, came yet another. A regular customer of the restaurant decided to match the donation.
Adriatic Cafe Italian Grill hosted a fundraiser to help the family of Dhaliwal, a 10-year veteran of the force who died in the line of duty after being shot during a traffic stop last month. Dhaliwal joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 2008 as a detention officer and became a deputy four years later.
In 2015, Dhaliwal made history when the HCSO allowed him to keep his beard and wear a dastaar (turban) while on patrol — a requirement of his Sikh religion. He became the first HCSO deputy to be allowed to wear a turban and articles of the Sikh faith, while on duty.
Dhaliwal is survived by his wife and three children.
In addition to donating $2,000 worth of food to the family during the service, the restaurant owners hosted two days of fundraisers at all three of their locations and presented an $18,000 check to the family Tuesday at the deputy's home.
"All the customers who supported us on day one, we wanted to give something back. When we heard the news all the employees were said, they said he used to come and eat here and just touch our hearts. We got together to do something," Ekrem Hyseni, co-owner of Adriatic Cafe Italian Grill, said. "We will continue to do that. They put their lives at risk so that we're able to sleep at night."
"Those days of the fundraisers, we were very busy. We want to thank all of the customers and employees who came here," Alban Bulliqi, another co-owner, said.
Owners said Dhaliwal was a very popular customer.
"We are truly saddened by their loss and we wanted to thank all the police officers who risk their lives," Avdyl Bulliqi, another co-owner, said.
Their good act inspired another. Mark Kassouff, who owns Guaranteed Builders Inc., located just down the road, decided to match the restaurant's donation and also donate $18,000 to the family.
"Stopped in to pick up lunch one day and I said 'Hey, I talked to the manager. I said Tony, I want to talk to you for a minute, we'd like to come in on you with this and match your funds.' He had a big smile on his face and said, 'OK!' " Kassouff said.