Paul Capoziello had been trying to draw more customers to his restaurant since business slowed under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “New York on Pause” order. But on Sept. 27, a fire ripped through his restaurant on Covert Avenue in Floral Park, and completely gutted it.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” Capoziello, a Franklin Square native who has owned Capo Ristorante with his wife, Ingrid, since 2009, told Newsday following the fire. He added that the restaurant had delivered food to local hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, and now, “We’ll have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and rebuild.”
To help with that, Franklin Square resident Michael Faraone created an online fundraiser for the family on Sept. 27, only a few hours after Capo Ristorante was completely gutted. In it, he wrote that the Capoziello family is “always the first family to support our programs, our schools and our entire neighborhood with food, donations and anything else that is needed in Franklin Square and neighboring towns. Now is our turn to give back.”
Paul had donated dinners to the H. Frank Carey lacrosse program fundraisers in years passed, Faraone told the Herald, and has a son in the Franklin Square Lacrosse program, which Faraone runs. The program teaches lacrosse to children in first through 12th-grade, and works “hand in hand” with the Franklin Square Police Activity League and the high school, according to Faraone. At times, he said, the members of the Franklin Square Lacrosse program would hold informal meetings at Capo’s.
“I know how hard he worked to build it,” Faraone said of Capoziello, calling him a “really great guy [who’s] super generous.”
Capoziello also helped out with the Carey Dads’ Club from time to time, President Michael Scavelli said, and gave the members advice on selling food at the concession stands. “He found a way to support everyone,” Scavelli said. “I hope he comes back bigger and better.”
Other residents also expressed their support for the Capoziello family. Michael Corleone, owner of Kayo Boxing, in West Hempstead, said he first decided to try Capo’s a few years ago, “and when I walked in, Paul, the owner, treated me like a celebrity.”
He said he then enjoyed the food and service that the restaurant offered, and could “only imagine what it must be like to be a small business owner who has everything I have built be destroyed” through no fault of his own.
“I felt so bad to hear the news,” Corleone said, and shared Faraone’s online fundraiser, which had raised over $37,000 for the family as of last Friday.
In response to this support, Capoziello called Faraone on Sept. 29, and thanked him for setting up the fundraiser.
“As a man, I never ask for help, and never would have,” he wrote in a message to Faraone that morning. “As I sit crying and praying, trying to figure out how ‘i’m going to navigate through this, I came across this fund you started, my friend. I suddenly realize how helpful this is going to be. I can’t express how thankful I am.”
To donate to the fundraiser, visit https://bit.ly/2S9QP1s.