“Miracles” help Randazzo’s Restaurant & Italian Market battle back from August flood

In August, 2016, massive floodwaters nearly destroyed much of Denham Springs, including its premier Italian restaurant, Randazzo’s Restaurant and Italian Market. Armed with pride, will and determination, this hard-working and faith-filled family proved they could battle the odds and persevere through hard times and come back stronger than ever – thanks to a little help from their friends.
randazzo“We were really overwhelmed when the flood not only claimed the restaurant, but also my parent’s home where we were all staying,” said Kyla Randazzo, an owner of the restaurant. “It consumed everything we owned including our family pictures and all of our cars. My parents Kenna and ‘Papa Carl’ Karnish are partners with my husband Antonio and I in our family-owned-and-operated business. Antonio and had to focus on rebuilding Randazzo’s while they focused on their house. None of us had any insurance.”

Randazzo’s re-opened October 10, 2016, with part-time hours and take-out items.

Randazzo’s re-opened October 10, 2016, with part-time hours and take-out items.

“Antonio is from Rome, Italy, and I’m originally from Oklahoma. We really didn’t know what to do, where to turn, or whether to stay in Denham Springs or try to move back to Oklahoma to start over,” Kyla revealed. “We were faced with more than 6 feet of water in the back kitchen and about three and a half feet in the restaurant itself. It was heartbreaking … and I was pregnant with our third child. We had no income coming in, and we really didn’t know what to do or how we would make it.“
randazzo2That’s when several miracles began to happen for this gracious family when people learned of their plight from news stories and social media.
“We cleaned the back kitchen first because it was cinder block and easier to repair so Antonio could at least try to do some catering and take-out items for a few hours a day,” Kyla explained. “Past and present customers and members of the community we didn’t even know and people from out-of-state began sending and dropping off donations that totaled more than $23,000. A pizza donation event helped us receive more than $9,000 in donations alone. It was a miracle and a sign for us that we are where we need to be to rebuild and to make a comeback.
“People from as far away as Texas, Arkansas and Wyoming sent thousand-dollar checks, and others dropped off Home Depot gift cards, all telling us that they believe in small business and hard-working families, and they wanted us to succeed. We were overwhelmed by the generosity.” randazzo5
Kyla said Antonio focused on his strong points which were to handle the cooking and catering, while she oversaw the reconstruction. She never realized the building required commercial grade flooring which was three times more expensive than what she had budgeted.
“Out of the blue, a lady with a real caring heart from Georgia who owned a supply store heard about our situation from a vendor and donated $10,000 worth of flooring materials to help us rebuild. How do you thank someone like that? It was so humbling to us,” she said.
Randazzo’s re-opened October 10, 2016, with part-time hours and take-out items. The Randazzo’s third child, little five-pound Sofia came into this world on November 8, and this family has never looked back.
“We finished up the restaurant and added a few more seats by taking out my office,” Kyla said. “We also added some new menu items like the Sofia Sandwich made up of fresh salami, melted provolone, goat cheese-stuffed peppadew peppers, drizzled with creamy Italian dressing and pressed in the Panini press. Plus our sons’ items are still on the menu, the popular Emilio and the Matteo sandwiches.”

We finished up the restaurant and added a few more seats.

We finished up the restaurant and added a few more seats.

Randazzo’s has also added additional menu items like the Kyla Salad with fresh mixed greens, artichokes, tomatoes, carrots, shredded mozzarella and topped with ham and creamy Italian dressing. Plus you need to try the new gnocchi with creamy black truffle which is a potato dumpling cooked in a creamy sauce of decadent black truffle mushrooms. Or perhaps the new chicken spaghetti in a creamy vodka sauce with melted mozzarella and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. All of the pizza and pasta dishes are made fresh daily at very affordable prices. There is also a deli with fresh meats, cheeses and desserts for take-out.

Details:

Randazzo’s Restaurant and Italian Market is at 240 Capitol Street in Denham Springs. Open Sun. and Monday for catering orders only, with 24-48 hours notice for catering. Restaurant hours: Tues.-Thurs. 11 am – 8 pm., and Fri. & Saturday 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. You can place an order by calling 225.667.4557, and to view a complete new mouthwatering menu, log onto randazzositalianmarket.com.

“We have catering jobs booked for weddings, school events and family reunions, and business is even better than before. We have been truly blessed, and we are forever grateful to this community who continues to support us and our family. Denham Springs is home, and we are so happy to be back open for business,” the Randazzos said.

By Kellee Hennessy Dickerson
Editor’s note: To read the story of how Kyla and Antonio’s love story in Rome lead to them opening an Italian restaurant in Denham Springs, click here