On September 13, 2001, Antonio “Nino” Vendome opened his family’s New York City restaurant, Nino’s, to a new clientele.
Before the 9/11 attacks, the Italian eatery on Canal Street served a couple hundred lunches and dinners a day to Manhattan diners. Only 48 hours after the attacks, however, Nino’s had a different mission. The restaurant, located a mile from Ground Zero, transformed into an around-the-clock operation, providing weary rescue and recovery workers with thousands of hot meals every day.
Over the course of the next nine months, Nino Vendome, his family, and an army of volunteers would serve more than 500,000 meals to the police officers, firefighters, military personnel, sanitation workers, ironworkers, laborers, and countless others working at Ground Zero. Children’s drawings and thank-you cards papered the walls of the restaurant, offering gratitude and encouragement. Volunteers included local residents and victims’ friends and family members, along with beauty pageant queens, professional athletes, and famous actors.