- From their kitchen’s ovens and stoves that run on gas, a restaurant whipped out free hot meals for everyone who needed it.
- The blizzard left Texans with no power to cook their meals or warm them up.
- Restaurant owners say they are paying it forward to their customers who have kept them afloat during this pandemic.
Texas was blanketed in darkness and snow. With temperatures dropping to single digits, hundreds were stranded in their homes in freezing conditions with no power to cook or keep warm. Grocery shelves were emptied, there were long lines to few open restaurants and at home, pipes were bursting and interiors were icy and some furniture had to be burned just to keep warm.
Bella Italia Ristorante owners Ari and Blinera Isufaj had to go to their restaurant to warm themselves up using their pizza ovens. Figuring that since they used gas for cooking, why not make hot meals for everyone who needed it? And so, they and their staff prepared meals for everyone.
Bella Italia Ristorante will be open today (Thursday 02-18-2021) and operating at regular hours (11:00am-10:00pm)…Posted by Bella Italia Ristorante on Thursday, 18 February 2021
Hundreds of spaghetti, lasagna and pizza were whipped up from the kitchen’s ovens and stoves and more than 500 people availed themselves of their first hot meal in days from the restaurant.
More than 200 cars lined their parking lot from 10:30am to 3pm for the free meals.
Just a day before that, the restaurant also shared 80 meals at the nearby Sent Church warming center.
Ari Isufaj said, “People were saying, ‘Thank you so much, that’s so thoughtful.’ It was just amazing. We just wanted to do something and give people some comfort food.”
A Facebook post from one local woman said, “Ari, you are the best example I know of ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ You and your staff are amazing. When it is safe to go out, I will be ordering your wonderful food.
Still another person wrote, “We are very fortunate to have you in Plano! Thanks for looking out for those in need!”
Ari Isufaj is no stranger to the kindness of others. He came to Texas when he was 14 years old as a refugee from Kosovo. Strangers helped him buy a backpack, soccer clothes, among others. He will never forget the kindness that was shown to him. It just happened to be Kosovo’s Independence Day when they shared the hot meals.
And during the early months of the pandemic, customers have kept their restaurant afloat. They were just operating for a little over a year when the pandemic happened but customers supported them by buying gift cards or making donations.
Ari Isufaj said, “When I thought I lost my business, these amazing customers stepped up and helped me,” he said. “And when this (storm) happened, it was just the right thing to do. There are a lot of people that are struggling, so we just paid it forward.”