WALLINGFORD — As customers streamed into Stella Pizza & Restaurant Friday, they stopped to give owner Cindy Fiorentino a hug, asked how she’s been and expressed how happy they were to see her open.
One man entered the 11 S. Colony Road restaurant exclaiming “I’m home!”
After being closed for 13 days, Stella Pizza reopened Thursday.
“I got overwhelmed,” Fiorentino said. “I love my customers, I love people. I've been in the restaurant business... like my whole life.”
On Aug. 10, the restaurant closed its doors unexpectedly, due to financial hardship involving state taxes, Fiorentino said.
“With your help, we were able to give an amount as a down payment, which was accepted by the state, and this will allow us to set up a payment plan on the balance,” the restaurant explained in a Facebook post to customers.
An online fundraiser through GoFundMe set up almost immediately after the closing raised about $5,000.
“Everybody just helped me out, everybody came to together,” said Fiorentino, who has owned Stella Pizza for 31 years.
She described the support from her customer base as “unbelievable.”
Economic Development Director Tim Ryan said Stella Pizza has become a bit of a Wallingford institution, having been located in town for decades.
“I think when everything went down I think a lot of people were like ‘oh my god, I forgot Cindy was there,’” Fiorentino said. “Now we just got to work on keeping everything on board.”