Mario Carey and Paolo Garzaroli have been neighbors for years, but it was a desire to help in a time of need that united them in a kitchen located miles from their Nassau homes.
Carey, a successful real estate broker and popular businessman whose opinions are frequently sought, and Garzaroli, who spearheaded the cobblestone cottage-like redevelopment of historic West Hill Street in Nassau, created their own feeding program.
For the past month, they’ve been serving up homemade pasta lunches every Friday curbside from the famed Graycliff Restaurant in Downtown Nassau.
“We call ourselves two men with a passion for pasta and compassion for others,” said Carey, founder and president of Better Homes and Gardens MCR Bahamas Group. “In our first week, we fed 1,200-plus people. Our second week, the number more than doubled and in our third week we fed over 4,000 people. We would not be able to do this without the help of private sponsors and other local businesses lending a hand.”
The problem, they said, is without more help, they don’t know how long they will be able to sustain the effort.
“Mario came to me with the idea of using Graycliff’s facilities for a feeding program that the two of us would participate in and manage,” said Garzaroli, whose family operates the restaurant, boutique hotel, cigar and chocolate factories and other cottage industries lining the unique street overlooking Downtown Nassau, the harbor and Government House grounds. “I discussed it with the family, and we all agreed that we’d go forward with the plan.
“Graycliff Restaurant is only open for takeaway now because of the COVID-19 safety measures. My dad has been wonderful, spearheading the efforts and coordinating the menus which must meet Graycliff standards. Our staff has been wonderful, volunteering their time to prepare, cook and package pasta-based full meals and a cold drink for collection every week.”
Others have now volunteered to help and they are in the process of being screened.
With unemployment reaching 50 percent and Graycliff’s location near one of the most densely populated areas of the city, much of the foot traffic is coming from the Bain and Grants Town community.
“We have also had a number of organizations catered towards caring for seniors and children reach out to us for help,” said Carey. “In those cases we organized pickup stations for places like Good Samaritan Senior Citizens Home, Unity House, Bilney Lane Children’s Home, Ranfurly Home and Persis Rodgers to send someone to pick up meals.”
The irony of Graycliff – the first restaurant in the Caribbean region to be awarded five stars – now serving as a feeding depot for the hungry was not lost on either of the men.
“We are just happy to help where there is a need, but we desperately need support. Even with one of the finest kitchens in the world helping us, we have to purchase food and supplies. When we see the look of gratitude on people’s faces, it inspires us to keep going,” said Carey.