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Community rallies to save family-owned Italian restaurant from shutting down

Pasco County

LUTZ, Fla. (WFLA) – An emergency fundraising campaign and a generous anonymous donation saved a family-owned Italian restaurant from shutting down Friday.

“It wasn’t losing my restaurant per se, it was losing the ability to be able to do what I really love which is help the community,” Jessica Meyers told 8 On Your Side.

Meyers and her husband went home Thursday night unsure if Little Italy’s Family Restaurant and Catering had served its final customers in the greater Wesley Chapel and Lutz communities.

“Were we behind, obviously,” Meyers said, “I’ve had $300 nights, I’ve had $1,200 nights, I’ve had $3,000 nights, its so unpredictable.”

Behind on paying rent because of the uncertainty of running a restaurant during the coronavirus pandemic, Pasco County Deputies delivered a notice letting the owners know they had 24 hours to come up with more than $14,000 or the restaurant would close Friday at noon, Meyers said.

“(The deputies) told (my husband) it was probably one of the hardest evictions,” she said, “they’re actually customers of our.”

What happened next left Meyers at a loss for words.

“I’m overwhelmed,” she said Friday afternoon, with some of the day’s first customers already stopping by to pick up their orders.

An emergency Go Fund Me page started by a friend to “Save Little Italy’s” raised nearly $7,000. Meyers said an anonymous donor contributed another $8,000 to keep the Italian cuisine cooking in her restaurant’s kitchen.

“I’ve already been there, I’ve already paid it and I’m here and we’re open,” Meyers said. “We are open for business. I mean we’re open so we’re not closing.”

Meyers said she’d like to learn who made that generous donation so she can at least thank that person with a plate of meatballs.

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