Retired LAPD sergeant trying to save Palermo, beloved Los Feliz neighborhood restaurant

LAPD is accustomed to saving lives, but now a retired sergeant is trying to rescue a local restaurant from going under amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
LOS FELIZ, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For decades, Palermo has been a favorite restaurant of first responders. Now, a retired Los Angeles Police Department sergeant is helping the neighborhood staple, which is struggling to stay in business amid this on-going coronavirus emergency.

Pizza is the top seller at Palermo in Los Feliz. The homemade dough, marinara and fresh toppings have kept customers coming back the last 44 years. These days though, the booths of this neighborhood staple are empty.

The restaurant, which seats 190 people, is struggling to survive.

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"Today we're doing about 5% of what we usually do," said Tony Fanara, the owner of Palermo.

Fanara said he'd had to lay off employees to keep the doors open, but help is on the way.

Former LAPD Sgt. Joe Oliveri has been dining at Palermo for the last 40 years. He started a gofundme.com page to help Fanara and his employees at Palermos. Oliveri calls it the 2020 version of passing a hat around the police station.

"So, I put it on there for $5,000 and social media just went crazy," said Oliveri.

By Monday morning nearly $50,000 was raised.

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"Tony deserves it, his employees deserve it. He's here for first responders forever. If we need something, we come to him and he helps us out," said Oliveri.

Oliveri added that Fanaras compassion extends to everyone in his community.

"You watch homeless people come up to the door. He says 'Hi Fred, how are you? Wait outside,' goes back and gets them a slice of pizza and a Coke. Brings it out to the homeless person. He's just a wonderful, wonderful guy," said Oliveri.

The lasagna and chicken Diane are fan favorites and are available for takeout, but if you can't order, supporters are asking for donations.

"Everybody's giving to first responders and they all deserve it, but some of the other people that have helped us - it's time to help them," said Oliveri.

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