I gathered new appreciation for the joint today, however, when Val and I took my mom and step-dad to Pino’s for lunch in celebration of Mom’s birthday. See, we used to get pizza there almost every Friday evening when I lived at home, and Mom and Paulie continued that tradition even after all the kids were out of the house. I found out when entering the restaurant, however, that my parents had stopped going regularly in the interest of preserving their collective health. Mimo, the proprietor, chided Paulie in a thick Sicilian accent for his absence, but was clearly happy to see us show up. Discussion, as between friends, followed for a few moments about zeppoli (an off-the-menu treat), life, and work before we were told to sit wherever we liked.
Paulie and my mom are each half Italian which is rare in a small Southern town, so perhaps that enables such camaraderie, but it was pleasant to see a business owner treat a regular (or former regular) with such genuine friendliness. In honor of my mom’s birthday, ALL OF US were offered a serving of tiramisu. While I paid for the meal at the front counter Paulie, Mimo, and I discussed off-the-menu ideas that would bring my parents back to regular status.
I left with a feeling of connectedness to that establishment – a mutual feeling of provision, in that we provided a portion of the success of Mimo’s business, and he our gastronomic pleasure. I felt a real desire to foster that feeling of neighborliness – an Old World interconnected sense of community, whereupon each citizen contributes to each other’s well being. A sense of community that’s fading even from the small towns here in the American South, where you know the tailor, the butcher, the restaurateur, the mail man, the sheriff, etc.
This is what draws me so to small businesses. I want to operate one. I want to work with them. I want to help them succeed. I want them to help me succeed. I’m not talking about a veiled form of nepotism here – I’m talking about community.