Stevi B's feeds Newton's student-athletes

COVINGTON - Newton County high schoolers are filling up on free pizza this semester.

For the first time, Covington's Stevi B's pizza buffet in Newton Plaza is offering free pizza buffets to high school fall sport athletes.

So far, the restaurant has served about 500 students from Eastside, Newton and Social Circle high schools who play such sports as football, volleyball, softball and cross country. They plan to serve about 800 students by the time this semester is over.

"We want it to be a time for the teams to come in and sit down as a group and their coaches to get some time," said owner Brandon Vaughan. "I thought it would be a nice thing to do. ... We're trying to think of different ways to reach out to the community and keep people interested and engaged."

He came up with the idea over the summer as a way for the restaurant to get more involved with local high schools - Newton High School's basketball team members often come into the restaurant together before their games, and he thought that was a good idea.

"We're really active with elementary schools - we do special nights for them and donate some money back to the schools," he said. "With high schools, it's a little harder to do that ... so this is a good way to establish a relationship with them."

When the teams come in for their free buffets, they also are receiving a card that lets them eat for $5 for the rest of the season, which Vaughan said helps out in difficult economic times.

This donation comes around the same time that the Covington Stevi B's and other area Stevi B's locations offered free pizza day earlier this month - the restaurant gave a free build-your-own to-go pizza to the first 100 customers one night.

"With times being tough right now ... we want to support the community," Vaughan said. "We want them to think of us as a fun place to eat."

He hopes to continue the free buffet offer to area winter and spring sports teams and even to school music groups and churches with caroling around the holidays with a "Sing for Your Supper" promotion.

"This is a good way to extend what we have to offer," he said. "Our motto is that if you've got a really great product, you shouldn't be afraid to give it away."