SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 10, 2014

Picking up the tab

Restaurants feed family displaced by fire, for free

(Continued)

But Vargas thought Baldassari, who is disabled, needed more. Many local restaurants agreed, including Victoria Station, where the family ate last night and is planning to eat Easter brunch with extended family — all for free.

Elizabeth Collett, general manager at the restaurant, said the business had previously helped a family devastated by a fire. “We have kind of a good history of community involvement.” The tab for the family’s meals will be absorbed by the restaurant, she said.

“The owner’s a really good guy,” Collett said, referring to Keith Barsanti. “It’s not a problem.”

The family has also eaten on the house at Tavern in the Square and Joe’s Bar and Grill, and Vargas has scheduled free meals for them over the next two weeks at 99 Restaurant on Bridge Street, Texas Roadhouse, Applebee’s, Bertucci’s, Olive Garden, Five Guys, the Waterfront Hotel, Chuck E. Cheese and North House of Pizza. Also, Ken’s Kickin’ Chicken has offered to donate prepared meals to the family.

“They all deserve a shout-out for helping us, you know what I mean?” Baldassari said. “God bless them.”

Baldassari’s family has received help from other corners, including Carlton Elementary School, which donated clothing, and both the Massachusetts Association for Community Action and the Salvation Army, which have offered to help pay the deposit for a new apartment.

Also, a local Catholic charity has donated Target gift cards to the family, some of Aaliyah’s friends have given her toys, and Baldassari has received clothing from friends.

Amid all the help, Baldassari said the restaurant meals stand out because they offer something that’s hard to come by these days — family time when the three can try to relax.

All the same, she said it was difficult to distract herself from such a daunting situation, particularly because of its effect on her daughter, who doesn’t understand why the family can’t settle in one place.

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