This morning, we woke up, as we have been doing every day recently to a very different kind of world. One in which Italy is essentially shut down, doing its utmost to contain the spread of this Coronavirus, one in which all countries and all people are watching and waiting on news as this story continues to develop. Here in the states, the NBA has been suspended until further notice – more proof (not that we needed it) that we are living in very uncertain, unprecedented times.

As a restauranteur, I wanted to be responsible yesterday so I drafted a statement to our guests, regarding our restaurant in Rosemont as well as our event space which you can read here. We met with our entire staff to go over safety procedures, make sure that we are being every more mindful than usual to provide our guests with a safe and clean environment for them to dine in, and celebrate their milestone occasions. It is a weird time isn’t it? I don’t know that any of us really know what to say when we hear the phrase “global pandemic” – but I found some comfort today on the IGTV of Dario Cecchini, a restauranteur and butcher from near where my family is from, of whom I have been a huge fan for some time. He read a passage from “The Crisis” by Albert Einstein, written in 1929 and this stuck with me, “Crisis is a great blessing for people and nations, because crisis brings progress. Crisis arises from anguish, as day arises from the dark of night. It is in periods of crisis that inventiveness, discoveries and great strategies are born. Those who overcome the crisis bring out the best in themselves without being “overcome….” You can read the entire quote here.

This gave me comfort today, as I move forward with my day, having delayed my travel plans for one more day to meet again with our teams at our restaurants and venue to make sure that we are doing everything we can to be strategic, inventive, and progressive. To ensure that we do not panic, and that we stand together. For those of you looking for information on what is happening in Italy, I highly suggest that you follow Girl in Florence. Her blogs are always ones that I love to read, but in these times I have found them to be especially helpful.

Of course, in addition to that, I am making sure that my wedding clients feel good and know that we are here for them. We have several destination clients this year and we have already made any necessary adjustments for venue scouting trips, as we remain their source of knowledge, insight and resources as we normally do.

I encourage you at this time to follow the safety procedures, such as washing your hands frequently, and singing “happy birthday” twice to ensure you wash for the right time. Try as much as you can to not touch your face – this has been IMPOSSIBLE for me, I never realized how much I touch my face until yesterday. But I am aware and doing my best. I encourage you to stay home if you are sick, and remember to keep hugging, kissing and handshakes off the table for now. Believe me, I know that is difficult. As a proud Italian American, I am a total hugger! When I cough or sneeze I am covering my mouth and using the inside of my elbow. I have bleach wipes, hand sanitizing gel and am doing what I can.

For me this situation hits home not only because of Italy, or because we are restaurant owners but also because my father is a great risk of Coronavirus due to his pulmonary disease and immune system vulnerability. We have had to explain to him that he needs to stay home and not be in the restaurants and that is really hard for him as he loves to be there, but he gets it.

Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte spoke to Italy last night, and reminded them that although right now we are not hugging, we will wait on that until a day comes in which we can hug again, and run together again. I loved that. I also loved this idea – although contact is limited now and social interaction is limited – we can still smile at one another. We can still say “good morning” or “have a nice day” – while we limit social contact it does not mean that we need to limit manners. In fact now more than ever, kindness is key. These are tense times, nobody will get an argument from me there. But I do believe that kindness, patience, and compassion make all of the difference in tense times.

My friends and family in Italy are essentially closed in their homes. Their environment is a serious one – so I thought it would be a great idea to send little video snippets of my day here so that are “with me” and not alone, offering perhaps a brief respite from the gravity of the situation.

I close with the following statement that I hope we can all stay true to: when we can’t shake hands, we can still extend kindness. 

If you’re interested in learning how you can help Italy, please click here.

Standing outside of our Chicago location, waiting and wondering how COVID 19 will impact our opening.

The team meeting to go over safety protocols.

My Dear friend Sara, at work as a pharmacist in Emilia Romagna. Her work, along with super markets are the few businesses left open.
The view from my beloved family “home city” of Lucca.

Our team working diligently in Chicago.

Some of my favorite people in Florence.

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