Freddy Sadiku said 12 years ago, in the first of year of Toscanini Ristorante Italiano’s operation, he gave his last $3,500 to his employees for a Christmas bonus in November because he wasn’t sure he would have the money in December.
Sadiku said he then walked across the street and stared up at the sky.
The owner of a store across the street watched him and then asked him what he was doing, he said.
Sadiku said he looked at his neighbor and said “I just did my part, now I’m asking God to do his.”
Twelve years later, Toscanini is a staple in Port Washington — not just for its culinary prowess, but for its philanthropic contributions as well.
On Sept. 25, Toscanini, located at 179 Main St., will donate its daily proceeds to the Italian Red Cross to benefit the recent earthquake in central Italy.
“This is for a very great cause,” Sadiku said. “Right away, we knew we had to do something and we jumped right on this opportunity. It’s not about being an Italian restaurant and helping Italy, it’s about helping people in need.”
The earthquake in Italy killed more than 250 people on Aug. 25, and Sadiku said that its tragedies like the one in Italy that brings communities together to help out one another.
For the occasion, the restaurant is offering a price-fixed menu for 49.95 per person, which will offer an appetizer, a salad, an entrée and a dessert with coffee.
“We’re not just putting any dish on the menu,” Sadiku said. “We’re offering the patrons the best dishes we have.”
Sadiku, who is originally from Croatia, started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher.
From there, he said he worked his way up through the various staff positions, finally opening his own restaurant in 2004.
Owning a restaurant is a chance to contribute and give back to the community, Sadiku said.
Instead of only donating the proceeds from that day’s dinner, Sadiku said, donating the entire day’s proceeds is a better idea because people visit the restaurant throughout the day.
The charity event is just one of many fundraisers that Toscanini has held.
Sadiku works closely with the Gift of Life International, which brings children from developing countries to America to receive life-saving treatment for heart disease.
Since working with the foundation, Sadiku said, they have helped save 40 children and will help seven more this year.
The restaurant also works closely with St. Peter’s of Alcantara R.C. Church in Port Washington to raise money.
“This is a great community that helps us help people so much,” Sadiku said. “I’ve never lost faith in God and in people.”
For the Italy fundraiser, the menu will have six entrée choices, including Chicken Pomodoro, Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, Rigatoni con Pollo Oreganata and other chicken, veal and fish dishes, too.
Patrons will be able to finish their meal with either a slice of cheesecake or tiramisu and a coffee beverage.
“I invite my customers to come in participate and help out people in need,” Sadiku said. “When someone is in need, I know that Port Washington people come out and help. They are great people.”