HUNTINGTON STATION - Customers are remembering the Legal Sea Foods restaurant manager who was killed by a carbon monoxide leak Saturday as someone who went out of his way to be accommodating.
Restaurant general manager Steven Nelson, of Copaigue, was killed from exposure to the poisonous gas that was leaked by faulty heating equipment in the restaurant's basement. More than two dozen other people were sickened.
Perri Mekalainas, of Syosset, says Nelson went above and beyond to make her family feel at home in his eatery. Mekalainas says her 13-year-old son suffers life-threatening allergies to dairy, eggs and peanuts, making dining out difficult.
Last summer, Mekalainas says she called Legal Sea Foods, which is located at the Walt Whitman Mall, and asked if they would be able to accommodate her son. She says Nelson invited the family in for a face-to-face meeting, and they set up a plan to ensure the boy would be able to eat safely and comfortably.
Mekalainas says it was beyond the scope of his job description, and her family quickly became regulars at the restaurant. "There was something very genuine about him," she says.
The family was at the restaurant last night to celebrate Mekalainas' mother's 90th birthday. They were among the patrons who were evacuated during the carbon monoxide scare, and they found out about Nelson's death when they watched the news later that evening.
Mekalainas says that while her family only knew Nelson for a few months, she wanted to share the impact that he had made through his kindness. "When you lose someone that has touched your life, it's really indescribable," she says. "He made us feel like family, and we felt like he was family to us."
Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz says Nelson's death is a huge loss. The company said in a statement that its thoughts and prayers are with his family.