by Terry Rogers
In April 2020, in the very early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Franco and Sal Laragione, owners of Mama Maria’s in Milford and Dewey Beach, began giving away meal kits at no cost to help those who were struggling. Initially, the brothers were going to give just 10 meal kits each day, but the community rallied around them, offering donations to help cover the cost of their food.
“We were getting so many donations, we were going to start making money on this,” Franco said at the time. “We cannot say thank you enough to the community for helping us with this. At the end of the day, we know the community has made our restaurant what it is today, and this is a way we can give back and thank them for their generosity” The program expanded as Mama Maria’s partnered with Milford School District and it continued for many months.
The brothers knew they wanted to do something to show the community how grateful they are, not only for the support during the pandemic, but also for helping their restaurant grow from a small sub and pizza shop to a full-service Italian restaurant.
“We have purchased 1,500 panettoni, an Italian pound cake that is traditionally eaten at Christmas in Italy,” Franco said. “We are putting together gift bags which will include the cake, some pens, clips and a menu.”
On December 23, from 4 to 6 PM, the brothers will be standing outside their restaurant, located at 945 North Dupont Boulevard in Milford, handing the bags out to the first 1,500 people who drive through to get them. No purchase is necessary as the brothers simply want to thank the community for their support over the years.
“We could not do what we do if it was not for the community,” Franco said. “This is just a simple way for us to thank them and share our Italian heritage with others.”
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