, Salem, MA


April 23, 2014

Cheers, jeers for local newsmakers

CHEERS to the Salem restaurants helping a city family cope with the aftermath of disaster.

Earlier this month, a fire destroyed the School Street apartment where Michele Baldassari had been living with her boyfriend, Augustine Vega, and her 9-year-old daughter, Aaliyah. The Red Cross and the Salem Housing Authority have both helped with lodging but, as Baldassari notes, hotels offer limited cooking options — there are only so many meals one can make with a microwave and a refrigerator.

Baldassari’s friend, Jennifer Vargas, reached out to local restaurants, who responded quickly and with great generosity. Over the past few weeks, the family has dined or will dine at: Tavern in the Square and Joe’s Bar and Grill, the 99 Restaurant, Texas Roadhouse, Applebee’s, Bertucci’s, Olive Garden, Five Guys, the Waterfront Hotel, Chuck E. Cheese and North House of Pizza. Ken’s Kickin’ Chicken has offered prepared meals to the family. All for free.

Over Easter weekend, the family was to enjoy a holiday brunch with extended family at Victoria Station.

Victoria Station’s general manager, Elizabeth Collett, noted that the restaurant has had a history of community involvement. Owner Keith Barsanti, she said, is “a really good guy.”

Given the widespread generosity shown over the last few weeks, it’s apparent there are a lot of good men and women in the Salem restaurant business.

JEERS to David Takesian, the former treasurer of the Yellow School Center for the Arts in Newbury, for trying to avoid paying restitution to the group he admitted stealing money from in 2008.

According to the Essex County district attorney’s office, Takesian used more than $100,000 of the center’s money for himself, paying his mortgage, credit card bills and other expenses. When he pleaded guilty six years ago, Takesian received a sentence of two years in jail and was ordered to pay back what he took from the arts center.

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