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Chalk art outside Nonna Maria's inspires Southern Arizona and beyond

Posted at 7:31 AM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 10:31:07-04

For more than two decades, Nonna Maria's has been serving up authentic Italian food in the community of Oracle, but now it's not just the dishes inside the restaurant that have folks talking.

From Snoopy to the Statue of Liberty to a special tribute for essential workers. "I've gotten response from Italy, Illinois, all over the place really. it's really been great."

Frank Palazzolo, owner of Nonna Maria's, is usually making works of art in the kitchen however, he was in need of some inspiration. "So my wife goes, you have a lot of artwork in the restaurant, why don't you do something. Here's some chalk. Go outside and do something," said Palazzolo.

His wife's advice came when Frank first got word that their family in Italy was under lockdown . "My uncle over there, he's 85 years old. my uncle Pete and he's scared to leave his house. He had my cousin literally leave the food behind his door and then he would open the door and get his food and take it inside."

So Frank started taking his pain out to the sidewalk, creating hope out of chalk and including anyone that needs a little pick me up. "So I put it on our Facebook page and folks started responding and you know, giving me ideas or inspirations."

Inspiration that is definitely needed right now, as restaurants like Nonna Maria's deal with the uncertainty of what the future will bring. "With the way things are going, we're really not sure because they're talking my seating capacity could go from 80 to 25," said Palazzolo.

Frank says what reopening will look like for them is still evolving. One thing is for certain, he's planning on staying positive. "I always say the glass is half full. Let's figure out how to fill it up all the way and keep filling the glasses up. That's how I am. That's my attitude towards the restaurant business."

The chalk art may wash away, but the message lives on, stay strong or as Muhammad Ali would say. "If Ali was alive, you know float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, virus out in three, is what he would say," Palazzolo said.

Frank is also drawing a chalk piece for the graduates of 2020. You can catch all of his beautiful art on Nonna Maria's Facebook page.