Monday, December 22, 2008
sponsored by Quiznos

Willpower outpowers power out

Guzzardo Family Restaurant delivers in the dark

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[December 22, 2008]  When the tragic downtown fire struck the community Friday night, it was a given that power would need to be turned off on the structures threatened by the flames. (See article and pictures.) The problem was that the power shut-off took out a grid that included the south side of the square.

InsuranceIt was on the south side of the square at that time where the popular Guzzardo's Italian Villa was in the midst of serving a full house of diners, including several companies' Christmas parties.

Normally, one would think that without power, a restaurant would simply apologize to patrons and send everyone home, but that isn't how this restaurant and these people think.

As soon as the power went out, the Guzzardos and all their employees started lighting candles.

They ran a string of them on the stairway so patrons would be able to find their footing. Flashlights were hung above the salad bar, and staff members all carried one so they could read the food orders and make sure each diner got what they ordered.


In the kitchen, Nick Guzzardo could be heard yelling for someone to hold a flashlight over carryouts so he could see if he had the right one for a pickup patron. The kitchen, which still could cook and prepare meals, worked at a furious pace as helpers ran back and forth shedding light where needed to make certain everything was being prepared to Guzzardo standards.

With electricity out, kitchen staff had to run meals up and down the stairway rather than send them up in the dumbwaiter. They did so like they were on a track team.

Bills had to be handled manually, and although the candles shed some much-needed light, it was still difficult for staff and patrons to see.

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But all in all, nothing outside of lighting changed. The Guzzardos were still as cheerful and friendly as ever; staff rushed about without a single complaint on their lips; and, remarkably, everyone was served their excellent dinners, perfectly prepared, in no more time than usual.

It was as if a challenge had been given to the restaurant to get a job done in very trying circumstances, and rather than just call it a night and disappoint their valued patrons, they went the extra mile to continue business as usual.

As the evening deepened, it was also remarkable to see patrons continue to come into the restaurant, knowing that the only lighting was by candlelight. They had come together to be with family and friends during these days of Christmas. They had decided that the darkness would not be allowed to make their evening a disappointment. The Guzzardo family and their great staff made sure of it.



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