OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (WTNH) — After receiving a call Christmas morning, Len DiBella knew it was going to be bad. But it wasn’t until he arrived at Luigi’s Restaurant that he saw the full extent of the damage.
“It was like an indoor monsoon,” DiBella said. “Just water cascading everywhere — out of the ceiling flooding the floors. The ceilings had started to come down.”
Water rained down on the 19th-century building and Luigi’s legacy.
DiBella’s grandfather opened the restaurant in 1956. He’s now the third generation to own it, and his seven children have all worked there at some point.
Now, they’re left picking up the pieces.
“As my dad would say, ‘These are all material things, nobody was hurt, and we’ll come back,'” DiBella said.
It’s all bouncing back thanks to the community’s help.
Mirsina Filindarakis, who owns Mirsina’s Restaurant, started a GoFundMe campaign to help Luigi’s 50 staff members.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” Filindarakis said. “As a business owner, I know how he must’ve felt. A – losing your livelihood, and then B – like, what do you do with all of my employees, especially around Christmas time?”
Donations are pouring in. As of Monday, the campaign has raised more than $28,000.
“The community response has been staggering,” DiBella said. “Like, anything that I can say is an understatement.”
While the exact cause of the flood is under investigation, DiBella said it was due to the building’s sprinkler system.