While many South Florida bars and restaurants are preparing for the large crowds of fans dining out on the biggest night in professional football, an Italian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale is gearing up for a tradition of its own.
For the eighth consecutive year, kitchenetta will close its door on Super Bowl Sunday so that its employees can watch the game with family and friends.
"I'm very happy about that," said Domenic D'Angelo, pizza chef at kitchenetta. "The Super Bowl is like a holiday. You got Christmas and then you got the Super Bowl."
Though he has no particular allegiance to either Super Bowl XLVII contender -- San Francisco 49ers or Baltimore Ravens -- D'Angelo said he's excited about having the day off and hosting about 20 people at his house for the game.
D'Angelo, who has worked at kitchenetta for only a year, thought it was a joke when he found out the restaurant closed for the Super Bowl.
"But then I saw the schedule in the back and said 'well, this is great'," D'Angelo said about his first year working there. "When I started the [Arizona] Cardinals were in it, that was awesome."
The tradition didn't start because kitchenetta's owner is a big football fan.
"I'm not really too hip on what's going on in the sports world," Vincent Foti said. For instance, with the Miami Heat, he knows that "one guy is from Cleveland," he said, referring to the popular basketball star LeBron James.
In 2006, two years after the restaurant opened, the kitchen's exhaust system broke down and Foti couldn't get anyone to fix it till the following Monday, he said. So he decided to close the restaurant that Sunday.
The next work day "everyone came back and were so joyful not to have to work Super Bowl Sunday I decided not to open on that day anymore," Foti, 52, said.
It's not a "tremendous amount of business" the restaurant will miss out on, with Sunday sales ranging from $7,000 to $10,000, Foti said. The day off is not paid to the hourly-wage employees, but they are happy with the extra time off, he said.
Patrick Michael Buckley, a waiter at the restaurant, said he's been working at kitchenetta since the equipment malfunction several years ago.
"Originally, it was a mistake," said Buckley, 43. "But hey, we'll take that mistake."
Buckley plans to watch the game at his house with his family and about a dozen friends, he said.
"There's nothing like watching it live, especially if you experience it with someone like your son or someone that cares about it to the same extent you care about it," Buckley said.
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