VIRGINIA

Damaged by flood, Arlington restaurant gives out free food

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Flood damage is putting an Arlington restaurant out of business for the next few weeks. But before the construction crews move in and the customers move out, they're being served the ultimate daily special - free food.

Joseph Smith, operating partner, Toscana Grill in Arlington.

When the owner of Toscana Grill discovered three inches of water in his dining area and a kitchen stuffed with food, he knew exactly what to do.

The water drowned out business over the holiday weekend. Joseph Smith still had a clean kitchen full of food. He decided to give away everything on the menu.

"I'm from New Jersey," Smith says. "When New York City had the blackout, shop owners gave everything away and that stuck with me. I remember the neighborhood response.

Hungry customers snaked around the block Wednesday, lining up for the free food. And everyone in line got one dish.

"It feels like Black Friday," says Michael Moreland, a customer. "I guess people like free food as much as they like shopping after Thanksgiving."

"I'm surprised they just didn't bill insurance and throw the food away, so I give them a huge applause for coming out and helping the community and offering a free night," says Kyle Julian, a customer.

Smith says he's hopeful insurance will cover employee wages while the restaurant is closed.

"After the renovation takes place and they reopen, it should be welcomed with a large crowd because everyone is going to remember this, this act of generosity," says Robert Petross, a new customer.

The restaurant will close until mid-June for renovations. It'll get a new dining room floor, new ceiling, and new paint.

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