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Restaurant owner serves up holiday gift

Vinnie Mustafoski, owner of Lola's Restaurant in New Richmond, served about 50 people with Paradigm Services, Inc. on Friday night as his way of giving back to the community.1 / 2
The crew who attended the free meal Dec. 16.2 / 2

Vinnie Mustafoski enjoys helping people almost as much as he likes serving a good meal.

So this holiday season, Mustafski decided to combine his two loves and reach out to people who could use a good meal during this season of giving.

On Friday at Mustafski's restaurant in New Richmond, Lola's Restaurant, 50 clients and staff members of Paradigm Services Inc. in New Richmond were served a free buffet dinner. Paradigm serves clients who are disbaled and live in group home settings.

"It was so generous," said Stephanie Heidtke, owner of Paradigm. "He just offered to do it. With the state of the economy, I was just blown away by that. It was really unexpected."

Mustafoski said the clients served by Paradigm often come to Lola's Restaurant for their monthly trips around the community. When Mustafoski started thinking about who he could help during the holidays, his loyal customers were the first to come to mind.

"When you have a full stomach, you have to think about someone else," Mustafoski said in his thick accent. Mustafoski is originally from Macedonia, Greece. "It's not about yourself."

Mustafoski, who previously owned a restaurant in Alaska, said he has employed several people with disabilities in the past. He has always appreciated the honesty and kindness of those with disabilities.

"I will be willing to help them all my life," he said. "I just wish I could do more. I'm new with my business, so the money is tight. Still, it is good to give away."

The Paradigm crew enjoyed a menu of fried fish, pizza and lasagna, among other things, Friday night.

Mastafoski said he hopes his holiday giving isn't quite done. Lola's Restaurant plans to deliver some pizzas and perhaps other food items to police, fire and ambulance service personnel during Christmas weekend to thank them for their dedicated service to the community.

"When I was young, I grew up poor," he said. "Now I have the chance to give somebody something."