BY Kathy Zucker • Saturday, June 14, 2014
One year ago, my kids were attending preschool and first grade in a basement and gym, refugees from Hurricane Sandy after it severely damaged their school building. I would pick them up when classes let out and head straight for the Newport Green beach, desperate to get out into the sun and fresh air. I kept flip flops, buckets and towels in the trunk of our car, ready at all times to get down and dirty in the sand.
My kids built castles, riverbeds and dams all last spring. We must have made forty trips to the beach over a three month period. And after every one, we headed one block away to clean up, use the bathroom, and eat a delicious meal of broccoli, chicken parmesan, pasta, meatballs and tiramisu before picking up our car. By spending $20, we got four hours of free garage parking – a precious commodity in a region renowned for its lavish use of boots.
We were not easy guests. My one year old baby kept stripping down to her diaper, fastidious about the sand coating her shirt, pants and shoes. The older kids ran laps around the restaurant perimeter between the dining room and video game arcade. But every single time, without fail, we would step through the door of Loradella’s and get a smiling welcome from the owner, Lorraine Arthur, and staff. And we were not the only ones receiving personalized greetings – on a recent visit Lorraine knew the names of every kid in the restaurant on a crowded Friday night.
As the months passed and the seasons changed, we kept returning. Every Friday at school pickup, my kids would ask, “Can we go to Loradella’s?” My son – always a picky eater – knew he needed to eat two pieces of broccoli before he would be allowed to play video games. In the beginning, I would have to beg and threaten him to get him to eat just the blossoms.
This past Friday, my son and two daughters polished off an entire plate of broccoli, fighting over the last remaining stalks.
We celebrated Christmas at Loradella’s.
We held my son’s birthday party there – the kids made all sorts of fantastic creations like pineapple pepper pizza. People stopped me in the street for months afterward, saying it was the best party they had ever attended.
Loradella’s provided stability to my family in a year when my home, my kids’ school and my husband’s job were all flooded by Hurricane Sandy. My husband often met us there after work when he returned from his temporary office in Brooklyn. This fall, I am planning to hold mompreneur networking meetings at Loradella’s. I know that all I need to do is show up in a skirt and Coach heels, and the staff will take care of running the event. Just like home base in a game of tag, Loradella’s is my safe place.
Kathy Zucker, CEO of Metro Moms Network and Managing Editor of Metro Moms Magazine, mother of three young children and New York Life Keep Good Going Shorty Award winner and judge, writes about juggling career and family in an urban setting. She blogs at MomCondoLiving.com, tweets @KathyZucker, posts pics on Instagram, gets down to business at LinkedIn, talks about family on Facebook and gets outdoors on Youtube. Email is Kathy@MetroMoms.Net but the fastest way to get in touch is Twitter or Facebook.