Restaurant owner shows gratitude for his success by giving back to the community
By Hilary Hawke
Published: Saturday, December 5, 2009 2:17 AM EST
DURHAM — Saverio “Sam” Alesi, owner of Saverio’s East on Route 145 in Durham, is marking the restaurant’s first anniversary with a generous gift to the community — 200 Christmas Eve dinners of chicken parmesan, pasta, salad and bread.
He took over what had formerly been Little John’s Pizzaria on November 27, 2008, and while he jokes he hasn’t become a millionaire, yet, he “has been able to pay his bills.”
That’s an outstanding accomplishment in this economy.
Grateful for his success, and thankful to those who have helped him through a few rough patches in the past, Sam will show his appreciation by distributing the meals through a local food pantry and a church in Windham.
“I always used to watch the Jerry Lewis Telethon and I would wish I could help out,” Sam said. “This year I thought it was time for me to give something back.”
“I’m trying to get one of my desert suppliers to help out as well,” he added.
Two other suppliers are donating some of the ingredients and Wendtrome Electric is also lending a hand.
Besides Sam and his companion, Annie Cutie, all four of Sam’s children, Alexandra, Samantha, Anthony and Michael have helped their dad run the restaurant.
But it’s 11 year-old Samantha who’s the star of the place.
“I’ve had many waiters but none of them are as good as Samantha,” Annie laughed.
After school, Samantha, who is in the 6th grade, takes her place behind the counter where she answers the phone, takes orders and works the cash register.
“She never asks me for money,’ Sam said proudly. “She makes plenty with her tip jar.”
Business is so good Sam is hoping to expand with the help of a Quantum Loan from the Greene County Economic Development Agency.
He plans to renovate the building, pave the driveway, repaint inside and out and increase the dining room capacity from 40 to 60 seats.
Michelle Snyder, of Gilboa, who dropped by to pick up a sausage, onion and pepper pizza on her way home from her Kingston job, stops in at least once a week for dinner.
“The food is great and the location is convenient,’ she said. “The buffalo wings and pepperoni pinwheels are delicious.”
“I called a half hour ago, before the place was officially open,” she said, “and Sam took my order and had the pizza ready. It’s a great place and Sam is always so accommodating.
When told Sam was preparing 200 Christmas dinners for those in need, she said, “Those people are going to get one heck of a meal.”
Another customer, Jesse, came in and jokingly asked for ten orders of garlic knots.
“Saverio’s has the best food in the area,” he said.
Lawyer’s General Store owner and community leader John Quirk said Saverio’s had been a tremendous asset to the community.
“He takes part in most activities and has donated to many of our causes,” he said.
Sam said he’s happy in Durham and wants to buy the building and put down permanent roots. “I don’t intend to leave,” he said.
If the quantum loan goes through, he hopes to create five full-time positions. But Sam doesn’t want to change the atmosphere.
“I want to keep it as a family restaurant, a place where people can relax,” he said.[/B]