Late Sunday evening, Angelo Nizzari received a phone call he hoped would never come. The person on the other end said he was from the Bartow County Health Department and food served by his catering business had possibly made a lot of people sick.
“I was devastated,” Nizzari said. “The reason I do what I do is to put smiles on people’s faces, not take them off.”
But a Thanksgiving meal he catered for Toyo Tires employees on Nov. 14-15 placed him and his restaurant, Angelo’s New York Style Pizza & Bistro, at the center of a food-poisoning outbreak.
Five people were hospitalized and more than 70 were treated at area medical facilities in connection with the outbreak.
Nizzari voluntarily closed the restaurant to allow the Georgia Department of Public Health to begin investigating reports of foodborne illnesses among Toyo Tires employees. Then all staff members were trained or retrained on proper food-handling and food-service procedures using videos and other materials provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The facility received a thorough cleaning — all food-work areas and storage areas were cleaned and sanitized — resulting in a perfect 100 score from the health department and the restaurant was cleared to reopen on Monday.
The lunch crowd filled Angelo’s Wednesday — a beautiful sight for Nizzari.
“The public support has been tremendous,” said John Mroczko, Nizzari’s attorney. “They have supported Angelo with postings on social media, with phone calls and by just stopping in to eat.”
“We wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who came out and supported us as we reopened,” the restaurant said on its Facebook page. “Your kindness and positivity is overwhelming. We couldn’t do this without you!”