Bella Italia Ristorante lost power, but still had gas for cooking. So while the restaurant was closed for business, owner Ari Isufaj decided to open the kitchen to prepare free meals of lasagna or spaghetti for anyone in need of a bite to eat.
“We couldn’t sit back and do nothing when our community is hurting,” the restaurant wrote in a Facebook post.
Bella Italia Ristorante ended up serving free meals to more than 500 people in just three hours on Wednesday, WFAA reports. The restaurant also delivered 80 meals to a warming center at a church the day before, too.
“People were saying this is their first hot meal in two to three days,” Isufaj told the outlet. “That’s something that I can’t describe.”
Isufaj posted a video to the restaurant’s Facebook page this week showing the kitchen staff busy preparing the free food.
“We are not open for public, we are only here to give food to these amazing people that really do need it,” he said in the video.
Anne Newman, a regular at the restaurant who was without power for 41 hours, praised the team’s generosity.
“I have no doubt if I came to him and said there was somebody in need, he would fill that need,” Newman told WFAA.
The act of kindness was also a way of thanking the community that helped Bella Italia weather the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, as the restaurant had celebrated its first year in business when COVID-19 concerns forced area restaurants to close. Isufaj recently told the Community Impact newspaper last month that despite the challenging circumstances, customers donated money, bought gift cards and left large tips to help the business stay afloat.
“Bella survived because of y’all,” the restaurant wrote online. “What we are doing is nothing compared to what y’all done for us!” We are only doing what’s right! Helping our community, our neighbors and our amazing customers, just like y’all helped us.”
Bella Italia reopened Thursday, but promised to provide free food to anyone struggling in the storm’s aftermath.