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Open to veterans: Tuscan Kitchen closed to cater to vets, loved ones

Eagle-Tribune - 11/13/2018

Nov. 13--SALEM, N.H. -- Over free plates of pork and pasta, local veterans were honored Monday at communal tables inside Tuscan Kitchen.

It's a tradition as old as the Tuscan name, and one that restaurateur Joe Faro and a team of volunteer waitstaff look forward to each November.

For eight years, Faro has shut down his restaurants -- once just in Salem, but now in Portsmouth, Burlington and the Boston Seaport -- to cater solely to veterans and their loved ones for a day. Close to 4,000 three-course meals were dished up between the locations Monday. Faro made an appearance at each to shake hands and extend thanks.

"It's because we can't do what we do if they don't do what they do," Faro said of his inspiration for the annual gathering.

Many Salem residents in attendance have toted invitations for consecutive years. They're given a time to show up at the Main Street Italian restaurant and seated at giant tables with people who don't stay strangers for long.

Army veteran Tom Voskerjian, 90, ate near 92-year-old Navy vet Joe DiPrima. The Salem residents recognized each other immediately as having grown up on the same street in Lawrence.

"It's been years and years since we've see each other," Voskerjian smiled. "What are the odds that we both end up here?"

They spoke of their roots, their service and gratitude for the meal they shared.

World War II veteran George Miller, 92, was happy to be there once again with his son.

The Salem resident enlisted in the Coast Guard with a friend before graduating from high school. They winded up on Navy convoy duty from 1943 to 1946.

"We captured a German U-boat and brought it across the ocean to Portsmouth," he said at lunch. "A lot of these guys here have stories like that. It's rare to be able to share them in one place, with so many people like this."

Passing through the restaurant also was state Fire Marshal Paul Parisi, formerly Salem's fire chief. Parisi was part of the Army National Guard from 1986 to 1995. He was joined Monday by his wife and a couple of their friends, Jim and Rosemarie Kasouf of Salem.

"I was all over Europe with the Navy," Jim Kasouf recalled. "It's crazy to think how many years have passed since then. It's nice to be here today and talk about it."


(c)2018 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)

Visit The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.) at www.eagletribune.com

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