WATERTOWN, NY - “Overwhelming” is how CiCi’s Pizza General Manager, Joel Berthet, describes the initial hours of the restaurant’s Military Appreciation event, happening today and tomorrow (Feb. 10 and 11) at the franchise’s Stateway Plaza location. All soldiers, both active duty and retired, as well as their family members, eat and drink for free at both CiCi’s Pizza and Cold Stone Creamery. “We’re so excited to see this many soldiers and their families come out,” says Berthet, working to keep the buffet stocked with fresh pizzas.
Jennifer Sewell from Houston, TX arrived early with her children to take part. “We’ve gone through multiple deployments,” says Sewell, “and my husband is currently deployed, so it’s the little things like this that keep you going. It’s so helpful to not have to do this on your own; that’s what this kind of event does.”
“Today’s food was provided by a number of area businesses that share our love for our troops,” says co-owner, Christopher Hopper, as he moves between tables, clearing dishes and shaking hands. The list includes Page Fitness, Lake Ontario Realty, Barden Homes, SpringDrive, Brushstrokes by Melina, New Life Christian Church, JAM School of Music, Nina Hopper Vocal Studios, and Forté Management Group (Homes and Property). “We’re asking everyone to patron these companies and pass it on,” says Hopper.
Soldier Eddie Rosario, originally from Ohio, brought his daughter to enjoy the food and free face painting on his day off. Encouraged by her to get something scary, he did just that, choosing the Punisher’s iconic skull motif. “This is really cool,” says Rosario. “My wife’s happy, my daughter’s happy, our friends are happy, we just love it.”
“These restaurants are taking the time to really appreciate what the military does and who we are,” says US Army Specialist David Waters, who was so encouraged by all the generosity that he spontaneously joined other volunteers to bus tables. “Some of us work behind the lines, others out in front. But a day like this says, ‘You’re all important to us.’”
To participate, military personnel need only to arrive in uniform or present proof of service. For more information, visit northernpizzaco.com, or stop in at either store in Stateway Plaza, 1222 Arsenal St., Watertown, NY. Phone: (315) 681-6061. •