Restaurant owner goes above, beyond for his community
By Scott Akanewich
BERTRAM — Al Redzematovic felt a need to help.
The Bertram restaurant owner knew he couldn’t simply sit on the sidelines when the entire world – but, even more importantly, his own community – was busy battling the COVID-19 outbreak.
So, he decided to do something about it.
“One of the things we’re still doing from the first day of the coronavirus breakout was to offer anyone who was struggling financially, or have lost their job an opportunity to order food for no charge,” said Redzematovic, who owns Mambo Italiano Ristorante and Fratelli Pizza in Bertram. “All they have to do is let us know how many members are in their household and we will provide enough to get them through that day and they can do that each day, no questions asked. We’re blessed we’ve been able to have helped a lots of families – they give us a chance to be blessed by ordering and we do our best to make them comfortable by doing so because we should all be the same in this situation.”
However, it’s more than ready-made food that Redzematovic has offered.
“We also provided to all who were in need of flour and cooking oil because during the first few weeks those were the items you couldn’t find in stores regardless of if you could afford them or not, so that helped a lot of people and we were very happy with the outcome.”
Redzematovic, along with his wife Sabina and seven children moved to Bertram nearly three years ago and has embraced the local community ever since, he said.
“As owner of two restaurants in a small town, I’m blessed to be part of this community and I realized this is a time to give back to a community that supports you,” said Redzematovic. “But, it wasn’t just me doing it – once people found out what we were doing, they would come and leave a donation to go with those activities I was doing, so this is the entire community getting together in a rough time.”
According to Bertram Chamber of Commerce President Lori Ringstaff, Redzematovic is exactly the kind of business owner one would want in a community.
“It’s wonderful,” said Ringstaff. “You always know Al is one of the businesses you can count on to participate and help out with anything you ask for. He’s always more than willing to do anything to help the community.”
As a result of his kindness and generosity, the town of Bertram recently honored Redzematovic with a display of thankfulness, which included a parade – a gesture that left him flabbergasted, he said.
“It was great to see all those cars along with the local police and fire departments,” said Redzematovic. “It was an unbelievable feeling because we’re all in this together. We’ve been in Bertram for almost three years and I’m very pleased to have two restaurants in this town and to have four of my kids attending Bertram Elementary School and they’re very happy. My other three kids are still little and they stay home, so that being said, God has blessed me to have a beautiful family. It’s an awesome feeling, an unbelievably great feeling.”
Redzematovic said his motivation for reaching out to the community was fueled by a personal fundamental philosophy.
“The biggest reason for us to do this is it’s my belief the only things I possess are what I give away,” he said. “The things you give away are really the only things you have.”