Woman risks losing restaurant after son and husband die

Jeannette Friedman opened Phara’s Mediterranean Cuisine in March 2008. A couple of years before, her son Christopher had cystic fibrosis, and died one year after receiving a double lung transplant. He was 26 years old.

"When my son died I had a hard time I was desperately looking for something to do and I saw this place was up for lease and I never had a restaurant in my life." 

Her husband Jerry told her to go for it. He supported her while she ran the restaurant. She even opened Christopher’s Casbah next door.

"Low and behold I opened because of Christopher I just didn't want to dwell, I wanted to deal with things and I wanted to be busy."

She says things were great. But in 2015 things took another abrupt turn. Her husband Jerry had two blood clots in his lungs and died at 67 years old. They were married for 23 years.

"It was so unexpected. I started to think what happened here? Because I've always had my husband behind the scenes. And then it hit me I not only have to take care of the restaurant but I have to take care of the restaurant too."

"When my husband died we were so unprepared. I'm still responsible for the house mortgage and I'm actually thinking of selling my house right now but I'm thinking that might help me."

From November 2017 up until the beginning of March 2018 Jeannette says the cold weather significantly contributed to her falling even more behind since her husband’s death.

For New Years Eve 2017 she had 200 people set for reservations. Because of the weather and large outdoor seating area, people just didn’t want to risk getting on the roads. Only 40 people showed up. Jeannete says this is one of the many times weather made things go further south with Phara’s.

"I mean we've had cold fronts before but never in my ten years what had happened these last few months the cold weather, the snow, New Years Eve. I thought wow I'm struggling here..because the bills keep coming in and you still have to pay staff because the staff is here I thought what am I going to do?"

Jeannette tells FOX 7 she even thought of selling her home to stay afloat, so one of her staff members encouraged her to start a GoFundMe. Jeannette wasn’t keen on doing this because she felt embarrassed. But after realizing the business was at risk, she decided to do so.

"I've had people coming since we opened and it just makes me sad because I've got to keep this going I just have to because it's all I have it's what I worked so hard for and it's my livelihood."

She says there are constant reminders inside Phara’s and Christopher’s Cabah of why it’s all she has left.

"I have four children but Christopher I took that very hard. Then Jerry. So here I feel there's good energy here I feel so happy because I work so hard to make things work here. When I walk in I get such joy because I love meeting the people."

But Jeanette stay’s optimistic. She comes alive in the restaurant, and says he belly dances from time to time at Phara’s. But her mantra is to remember life is short.

"Life is so special you've got to treasure each moment because you never know."

A restaurant filled with precious memories of Christopher and Jerry.

"Well Jerry I lost you and I had you here now I don't have you and I talk to him and I say come on and help me come on intercede for me tell God to help me."

To donate to Phara's GoFundMe, click here.