Pismo Beach City Manager Jim Lewis said the city will do whatever it can to help rebuild Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana after a fire gutted the restaurant early Saturday morning — including offering extra help with any city permits needed to get the restaurant reopened.
“I definitely personally looked him in the face and told him we are dedicated to his rebuilding in Pismo Beach,” Lewis said Monday of speaking with restaurant owner, Giuseppe “Joe” DiFronzo. “It’s definitely one of our landmark restaurants in the city, and we’re committed to making sure it reopens here.”
Lewis said he expects Pismo will see some decrease in tax revenues while the popular establishment is closed, though he hopes visitors and residents will go to other restaurants in the city to make up for the difference — including DiFronzo’s Giuseppe’s Express, located across from the destroyed building.
The restaurant is among the top 15 sales tax payers to the city, and among the top five restaurants, Lewis said, though he declined to disclose how much the business provides in sales taxes.
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Authorities said they believe an appliance sparked a fire at the restaurant on Price Street early Saturday morning, though an investigation into the blaze is still ongoing.
Lewis said he and several council members stopped by throughout the day Saturday to hug and offer their support to an emotional DiFronzo and his distraught employees as they stood gathered around the charred remains of the building.
While there, they all promised to do “whatever a government can do,” Lewis said, to help make the process as easy as possible.
This could include one-on-one help with any permits or applications DiFronzo may have to file with the city if he chooses to rebuild. DiFronzo told The Tribune on Sunday he hoped to rebuild the iconic eatery in the same location.
“We’re going to make that a top priority,” Lewis said.
Lewis said donating funds from the city to help rebuild the restaurant would be “tricky,” considering it is a use of public funds; he thought it was instead more likely the community would come together to support the business in the event DiFronzo was economically unable to rebuild, pointing to the GoFundMe account set up to raise money for Giueseppe’s employees as an example.
As of Monday morning, the employee relief fund — started by Pismo Beach resident Diana Dennis — had raised $9,035 of its $10,000 goal.
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