Local Business in New Rochelle Dishonors Our Military on Memorial Day

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Local Business in New Rochelle Dishonors Our Military on Memorial Day

May 29, 2012 - 19:12


As a uniformed Afghanistan Veteran with the United States Marine Corps entered a local business in Memorial Plaza to use the restroom, he was ungraciously charged a fee of $2.00 to use their facility.  Does it get any more un American than that? Not honoring our military on Memorial Day? What kind of business owners do we have here and do we need them?  Immediately, a  sign was placed in the store’s window stating the $2 fee to use the restroom and a shouting match ensued over the outrageous demand from the store owner. There isn’t a question of  total disrespect to our military and community members attending the plaza ceremony.  Uninvolved with Memorial Day services altogether, business owners of this particular Greek pizzeria, Greco Pizza  have been continuously disgruntled over use of their restaurant during the last few Memorial Day services. Last year, store owners were furious over the American Flag being hung in front of their store and felt it necessary to complain to organizers about it (pictured above).  During that ceremony,  I myself went into the store when someone passed out to purchase bottled water because I noticed people overheating and the owner had the nerve to charge me $30.00 for a case of water.  As I handed the money over the counter, my heart sank because he was fully aware of the circumstances under which I needed the water. I gave this business the benefit of the doubt not putting a story up last year but after this incident, the gloves are off.  Do not disrespect our true patriots, our military and do not mess with anyone who has the power to let the public know about it.  If these are the true colors of this business, I am here to say that my colors, are Red, White and Blue.

Memorial Plaza sets the stage for a dignified and honorable Memorial Day Ceremony paying tribute and admiration to Veterans past and present.  Nothing should ever take away from that being the focus of Memorial day. Hundreds of people in New Rochelle are involved and put a tremendous amount of time, money and effort into honoring our Veterans. Any business who doesn’t appreciate what we do as a community, can take their business elsewhere because we don’t need people like that in our city. 

Photo credit Jen Parente

There are 29 Comments

Thanks for posting this information Bob. How dare this idiot. Not one penny will I ever spend in there and I will tell all my friends about this also.

I know the place. Never been in there, but I used to receive calls from there all the time. A childhood friend, addicted to crack for the last 10 years, called me every night from that pizzeria. Not only did they let him use the phone, but last I heard, let him run up a $500 tab. I suddenly don't feel so bad that they'll never get paid back.

is it El Greco Pizza?

No Italian in their right mind would buy pizza from a Greek place anyway, so I won't be going in this un-American business anytime soon.

Hey Noamie, what say you to this?


Keep away from El Greco Pizza, everyone. Protest with your pocketbook.

Anyone owning a business right where the Veterans honor their heros twice a year should know better. Pulling a stunt like this in one of the most patriotic communities in New York lacked any common sense whatsoever. I would say a parking meter has more sense than this guy.

I will never eat there and will tell everyone I know, and that's alot of people, this story so they can avoid this unAmerican establishment also. Shame on him and shame on anyone who spends one American dollar in a business that treats our heros like that. Furthermore, I wouldn't use his bathroom if he paid me $2.00.

I hope that this story grows and everyone in New Rochelle can decide not to spend their American dollars in a business that hates America.

I hear there are some job openings for pizza maker in Greece.

Click Here

Call the guy up and ask him for his comment(Ha Ha). How could he possibly defend his actions? but just in case here's the # 813 8880. Tell him Joe McCarthy sent you.

Simple fixes to a problem that you new from last year!

#1 don't hang the flag from his awning, let a couple of boy scouts hold it up proud

#2 pack a cooler with water bottles w/ a sign donate to our Vets

#3 have a portable rest rooms...send the bill to Mayor!

#4 skip the pizza shop altogether!

I for one, would park an Abram tank in front of his store so nobody can see his store all together

I just need to clarify that last year, the American Flag (as seen in the photo I took last year) was not hung off Greco Pizzeria's awning. I'm a photographer and the flag was actually hung on my backdrop stands. It was not within even 7 feet of Greco's store front, it did not block the sidewalk nor did it obstruct the view of his store front.

We also had numerous cases of bottled water (at no charge to anyone) on site at the plaza in two seperate locations and had run out. We had planned ahead of time but unfortunatly learned we needed to increase our order for this coming year which we did. In fact, not only did the City and organizers provide water for our military, police and fire depts., emergency services, band, City officials, dignitaries and community but water was provided for everyone participating in the parade.

Portable rest rooms will have to be discussed during preparations for next year's parade but we will cross that bridge if necessary as the time comes. The UVMPA and the City of New Rochelle were lucky to have raised the funds necessary to have held such a phenomenal event.

Like everything else in life, you tweak things until you get it right. Having been personally involved along side my husband Peter Parente in this process and working tirelessly with volunteers and city employees to help make each Memorial Day Parade better and better. This is the 5th year the parade has been active and we can see that our mission is obviously being accomplished. Memorial Day, the Parade and the Park festivities bring New Rochelle one of the greatest days of the year and hopefully this tradition will grow and prosper in years to come. It isnt about "us", it's about our armed forces, our military, they are America's backbone. Memorial Day is about being grateful to our men and women in uniform and appreciating our freedom. We are the Land of the Free Because of the Brave. I love our military and I do what I can to show it. Looking at the turnout the parade gets, I'd say that there are thousands of people in New Rochelle that feel the same way.

As far as this Greco's Pizza place, he's made his own bed. Its been more than 8 hours since this sory has been up and I haven't seen so much as an apology or response come down the pike yet.

Mrs. Parente, shame on you. Attacking a local business owner is very un-American. You have done a great deal of damage not to this store owner but to your husband, Veterans and all Americans. It seems that you have been blogging about the parade, your husband’s wonderful effort with very little response from readers. It is sad that this society is more interested in a story where you encourage hate and attacking a fellow American as your headline.

You my dear do not get to question another man’s loyalty or allegiance. You are not that special.

Lying is unacceptable, misconstruing the truth is despicable, but forgetting to mention your husband physically attacked the shop owner who you are now trying to run out of town, that my dear is comical!

For the facts: A flag was never asked to be removed from the store front. Mrs. Parente purchased a case of 35 bottles for 30 dollars last year (a case of 35 is 35 dollars, a dollar a piece a great deal in downtown New Rochelle, check around she was given a discount).

NO ONE was actually charged to use the restroom; the sign was there to get the attention of those who host this event after numerous attempts were made to encourage a portable potty be provided. This business is a small takeout business. The restroom is the size of a refrigerator and is not a public restroom regularly. It has been damaged every year at every city function. When you have this many people in one location, you need to provide proper restrooms. I have an idea…the library is across the street. Other business owners on the block were contacted to open that morning to provide a restroom facility; they refused as they did not want their restrooms destroyed.
I am sure Mr. Parente who worked very hard on this event to honor Veterans would rather his wife focus her efforts not on trying to destroy an individual and his family, but on how amazing this event really was. I for one am very impressed.

This is ridiculous..... Leave the Pizzeria alone....If NR cant get it right by providing water or bathrooms, why should a small business be held responsible to do so... The LIBRARY is across the street.. Plenty of toilets there!!....The bashing has to stop... Commenting streams from here or on facebook makes my blood boil!!! People love drama, love to talk smack about others.... 1. There were alot of people...lovely day, hot...2. If people keep going in and out of one business to use the that fair? 3. Enough bashing. the owners are great people... the Parente's are great people...the parade was great....Just remember to buy or bring your own water and NR - make sure you have porto potties or enough businesses willing to make their restrooms available, including the library!! Peace Love & Happiness....PS No one is disrepecting the Veterans....But whoever keeps insulting and boycotting others is just wrong....

Really? You mean the extra money that the poor residents pay Idoni II for their library keeps it open on Memorial Day?

I think not.

Bash away, folks. This merchant deserves all the bashing he can get. Boycott all merchants like him, vote with your pocketbook and keep away.

in the sewer that is downtown NR to go to this pizzeria?

No one. Paying to park in the sewer that is downtown NR is moronic.

b. Who would buy pizza from a Greek pizzeria?

No one. Want pizza in NR? Go to Modern. Lincoln Lounge is better, but if you HAVE to get it in NR, go to Modern.

c. Who cares? Downtown NR is going to hell in a handbasket, so who cares about one more nail to downtown NR? This was a stupid action on the part of a stupid merchant in the sewer that is downtown NR, so who cares? Ask Idoni II if he cares.

I spoke with several people who were inside the Pizza shop during the dispicable request for $2.00 to use the restroom and argument that followed.

Nobody was physically attacked. Had Mr. Parente attacked the pizza guy he would have been carried out on a stretcher. Trust me.

This is America and last time I looked we have a right to free speech. Informing the public that the pizza guy demanded $2.00 from a Marine who had just come back from active duty in Afghanistan is justified. How would you have felt if that Marine was your son or brother. That Marine put his life on the line for all Americans including the pizza guy and should have at the least been offered the free use of a bathroom to releve himself.

The pizza guy, by the way, was enjoying a huge boost in business due to the Memorial Service being in front of this store and should have offered, at the least, the use of his restroom. Human decancy is the least we should expect from one another. The pizza guy should have thanked that Marine for his service that helped to keep America free so pizza guys from Greece or anywhere else can open a business here in America and make a living. Instead the pizza guy chose to dishonor him and make him pay to releive himself.

Shame on the pizza guy and shame on anyone who would defend anyone one who dishonors our war heros, troops and vets. They can put their lives in harms way to defend your freedom, but thay can't use your restroom.

So don't say shame on you to Mrs. Parente. If you want to know you should be ashamed, look in the mirror and tell the pizza guy to join you.

That Greek is a third generation American. Again shame on you for continuing hatred and trying to create some sort of difference between one American and another. Three individuals held Mr. Parente back, why don't you ask him if he attempted to physically assault the owner and try calling city councilmen to figure out which one was actually in there and had to physically restrain him. Then you can ask the veteran who is being mentioned in the story why he returned to the business to apologize as the business owner was begged not to press charges against the actual crime that took place. After that look up the police report since a thrid party called the police when they saw the head of the parade dressed in military clothing lunge for a civilian. When the business owner was asked not to press charges, it was so the parade would not be tainted. Mrs. Parente has well calculated her timing in attacking this individual. She and her husband seem to have something against this man and it seems by your remarks Americans of Greek descent. That pizza guy woke up to go to work, there is no shame in that. Instead he was attacked. It seems since he did not accomplish having the man carried out in a stretcher, the Parente family is angry and won't be happy until they have blood.

But $2 to use the bathroom? Would you have preferred him to use a tree somewhere in downtown New Rochelle? That's downright insulting to anyone let alone a vet dressed in uniform waiting to march in a parade.

Surely the restaurant owner knew what was in store for him/her on the morning of the parade so if he/she didn't want non-customers using their bathrooms, they should have stayed closed and opened up around noon after the parade ceremonies were over.

Restaurant person should come out & say they were wrong; otherwise they stand to lose lots of business.

Why doesn't the city just open up the library so those facilities are available for people to use?

How would I best describe charging a VETERAN $2 to use a restroom? I say, and I am positive many agree that the answer is deplorable and discourteous. Whether the bathroom is small or a palace, wrong is wrong.

Those actions speak much louder than words.

For the record, no one was attacked. Not one moment of physical contact was made. A yelling match ensued. A Marine verbally defending his brother. There is nothing that my husband did that threatened the saftey of anyone in that store.

Undeniably American is what I am. Responsible for my actions is what I am. Respectful and caring of those around me is what I am. I married a Marine who has faught for our freedom. I have a nephew in the Marine Corps that just got home from Afghanistan in December and we thank God every day that he is with us. We are imbedded in respecting and appreciating our military and understanding what being American is all about and for the record, we teach our son about it too. Reporting facts when presented with them is what I do. Where are the defense statements and apologies from the pizzeria? There has been pleanty of time for them to make a public statement explaining their actions. My goal was not and is not to destroy a business. I made it clear that what they did to a Marine who has faught for our freedom is unacceptable. The story is written via my thoughts, opinion and feelings. Why would anyone be surprised and feel the same way? because the fact of the matter is that what happened is not American. The fact of the matter is that the store was not kind, courteous, appreciative or respectful in their actions. My words only told the truth. I can update this story with a statement from the Pizzeria but I cannot help them not being able to recoil from their poor decision.

I do not hope that their business is affected, what I hope for is their taking responsibility and never doing something like this again. Maybe they want to start contributing to the Parade and become a sponsor? Maybe they want to get involved instead of not. I actually hear that one of the owners is a really nice guy and I dont doubt that. But he needs to get active and explain the actions his store is responsible for.

I go to bed at night and I dont question my patriotism. I do my part, I will continue to do my part and I am a good person.

Mrs. Parente your words not mine:

"What kind of business owners do we have here and do we need them?"

A change of tune it seems? A very different tone when you claim you do not want to destroy this business.

more of your words:
"Any business who doesn’t appreciate what we do as a community, can take their business elsewhere because we don’t need people like that in our city."

That "nice guy" is my fiance, the one your husband attempted to physically assualt. An apology was promised from men in uniform representing your husband and was not recieved.

Once again, no one was charged to use the restroom. This sign was for parade organizers who should provide restrooms for attendees. The restroom at the pizzaria is not for public use as it is an employee restroom located behind a very hot pizza oven.

People had to physically restrain your husband who was attempting to assault a business owner, that is a crime and the real embarassment, then he does not recieve an apology.

If we offended any Veterans, please understand it was absolutely not the intent. We greatly appreciate every man and woman who fights to defend our freedoms. We appreciate the families who have to stay home and worry. We appreciate the family members we have who are veterans who have fought on the lines. We also hope that the parade officials and the city will do more to provide proper facilities for the veterans and supporters at next years parade.

What we do not appreciate is a person who questions our loyalty and our patriotism. We also do not appreciate promoting hate.

We sleep well at night for all we do for the city and individuals, even feeding people with drug addictions "crackheads". We do not try to claim fame for what we do as we do not have political ambitions, nor do we do to be praised by others.

Your opinion of our actions is not the issue, but your efforts to destroy a family is. You have a child as your remarks state. My son had to go to school today escorted and warned to watch his back as there is someone looking to cause him and his family harm. They have questioned his fathers patriotism and someone actually tried to physically cause his dad, an American, harm.

I hope you sleep well tonight.

On the surface, it appears that the store owner is very unpatriotic, rude, and a shyster. If true, I would not ever spend money there. On the other hand, I know that everything is not always what it seems, therefore, everyone should please hold judgment. Remember the stoning of the woman in Iran who was supposedly cheating on her husband? I would listen to both sides and then hope to hear from people who were in the restaurant. There is too much static and so many of you RUSH to judgment. In the Trayvon Martin/ Zimmerman case, I heard so many people say, "How could that little boy hurt that grown man?" It turns out that Martin was 5'11 inches and those pictures are several years old.
My point, I would ask the store owner, his side and then reserve judgment.
By the way, I have NEVER been to this store, so I"m not defending anyone.

Actually, knowing the Officers who were on scene as well as Jen Parente, the story is exactly as she describes it. A veteran asked to use the restroom at which time he was told he could, for $2. And yes, that fee incensed some other veterans who were in attendance (as well as the police officers who responded to the scene and were disgusted by the thought of charging for the restroom). Soon after a sign was put up stating that its $2 to use the restroom. If El Greco wanted to make a point, a simple "out of order" would have done the same thing...No, El Greco's intent wasn't to let the organizers know about the bathroom shortage, it was to gouge the people in attendance who had no other means to use the bathroom. As for Mrs. Parente and her husband, there aren't 2 more genuinely good hearted, generous people in this city, and I will take what she writes as Gospel. Shame on El Greco pizza, I hope your price gouging and bathroom fee made you alot of money on Monday because its gonna have to last till everyone forgets about this little stunt...and if it is up to me (and many, many others) no one will forget.

this is going too far and in the wrong directions. First, being a veteran, even on Memorial Day, does not provide you with any special benefits other than the honor and obligation of serving yior country. During Viet Nam, people literally spit at service men. Maybe some were Greek Americans.

One of the problems we hvae had, frankly, with the Armory is giving an early impression that it was to be a veterans entitlement. Fortunately wiser heads prevailed.

Ok, the $2.00 use of the bathroom wign is dumb And, I also see why anyone might get upset at a veteran, or child, not being given use of a facility.

I read it all and several things disturb me.

1. no one is lying, but peoples' perceptions are colored by how close they are to a situation.

2. Parente is an honorable man, but so is the family who run the pizza shop.

3, the other ex serviceman, who I know by reputation to be a fine man, is also an honorable man.

4. there seems to be a child involved and this situatiion may have escalated beyond limits. Every honorable person, Jen and Peter, the unnamed Council Member, the Unnamed other ex Serviceman, and the owners and family of the pizzeria would not, repeat NOT want anything to happen to this child.

I was a serciema in earlier times, Peter and the other gentleman in later times. We served for community and now we are the point of community first.

This sad event is casting a shadow on the outstanding job Parente and his people did on hosting this parade and as an ex serviceman and as a citizen, thank you Peter Parente for your fine community service.

Lets not give anyone out there any excuse to think that he or she now has a "reason" to support the Armory. Let's not give anyone out there any reason to think that ahyone of first, third, or twentieth Greek American, is not as American as you and I. I served with a number and did work in the government with many other who were and are great citiznes.

Peter and Jan, if you are reding this. let me urge you to meet and shake hands with the owner and his family to show the community what people down these parts and veterans are made of. I would suggest we let people, especially those prone to goosip and hearsay, to speculate on who the Council Member and the other ex Servieman are.

Lets do it big time so that word gets to this child's school that he is truly an American, as good as any other citizen, and sometimes, things go in the wrong direction.

Let me close by urging my friens and other posters to pull back some. This is a good family; I will say that much without going into detail and every small business deserves and merits our support.

And, Jen, you should be proud of Peter, your nephew and others and I know you want to help restore our downtown area, no the wntire City to be a place we all can be proud of and have a voice.

I will be at the American Legion on June 7 after dropping in on Jimmy Maisano's fundraiser at Dudleys and hope to thank you in person for a great job on Memorial Day.

warren gross

what I meant to say is that we should NOT give anyone out there any reason NOT to support the Armory.

warren gross

I can understand the issue from both sides, as they both have presented valid cases for their claims. It has been handled in a deplorable fashion. Event organizers could have (and should going forward) make sufficient and adequate accommodations for people in attendance. But could they not have simply used the urinals in the bar a few doors away?

I do not know of any take out joint that allows patrons or bystanders to use the bathroom.

Then again, could the pizza guys simply have been a bit more friendly?

Let it pass. This is not worth destroying a business (their product will make or break it), nor is it worth desecrating a solemn occasion of remembrance.

I am glad to see that you clearly stated that if you offended any veterans, that the public understand that it was absolutely NOT the intent.

It speaks volumes that you do appreciate every man and woman who fights to defend our freedoms and that you feel for all the families that have to deal with worrying that comes along with having a loved one off to war. I understand and respect that you have the right to not want to have your restroom used as a public bathroom, that is your choice and your business' decision. Better judgement could have been made and I'm sure will be made regarding charging a fee to any military person for use of the facilities. It would have been fine to say you do not have a public restroom and left it at that.

Lets hope that in years to follow, we work collaboratively with the city to end this issue. When people work cohesively organizing events and everyone's needs are met, everyone is in a win win situation. I believe that moving forward we can eventually make everyone happy.

hope this is it. it is still an event where everyone, repeat everyone was at fault.

i am not sure if peter is in the rserves but he seemed to be wearing fatigues with insignia on his collar that suggested he may have been a commissioned officer. he was the parade organizer. he knows what happened and in the light of days following, he knows what was done, and what needs to be done going forward.

the family runniing the business understands the sensitivities and realize that on a day like this emotions take over and they need to be more sensitive and smart.

they did not admit guilt, they expressed regret if anyone was offended and that is the proper response. they are a small business caught in the middle of a maelstrom and this whole thing is being blown up like a parade balloon.

i for one, would like to hear the full story without emotion and see whether the marine had other options to relieve himself.

enough i reallize service personnel have different views of service; many just return home to forget it; others join an organization and bear witness. both are right because it is not a question of right or wrong.

please enough on this.... there is an armory situation comoing up managed by a fine man, ron tocci and assisted by a wise by john d'alois. peter will and has played a great role and lets not spoil this.

too many in new rochelle do not give much thought to the need for an armory and the role it plays in the community.

come up shake hands for Christ sakes and build the reputation of downtown new rochelle.

Two bucks is cheap, soundview service station charged me five bucks.

If I may be so bold as to put my two cents in on this topic, I don't think the question is whether the owner(s) of this establishment was right or wrong for their actions that day. The bottom line is it is their bathroom, and if they want to charge to use it, that is their prerogative.

I think the question is more, was it the smart thing to do. Here is business owner who depends on the local community to stay in business, and to feed his family. And as a local business owner myself, let me say directly to this gentleman, "sir you made a horrible business decision that day." Did you not think there was going to be some sort of negative backlash regarding your actions? Is the attention your business getting right now good for business?

Were you within your rights to ask a uniformed Veteran for a fee for the use of your bathroom that day? Sure you were. Was it the nice thing to do? No . And people are going to judge you by that decision.

As for charging for the bottled water for the people that were overheated that day, how much advertising could you buy for that $30.00? None, but if you "donated" that case of water to the people of the community who needed it, then that would have been publicity you couldn't buy for a thousand time the price you got for that case of water.

One last point I'd like to make is regarding the fact that according to the article you had a problem with the American Flag mounted to your awning and displayed outside your business during these brief ceremonies. IF these facts are accurate, you should think about reconsidering your position on this topic as you cheerfully accept the American Dollar for every slice you sell.

I am familiar with the restaurant in question, and the owner has always been respectful and friendly. Some of the accusations about this establishment don't make sense in view of my own interactions with this pizzeria. I was not there when this incident occured, but based on the design of the space it is not a place with a public restroom. Anyone wanting to use that facility would have to walk past the ovens on one side and the food preparation area on the other. It would be a hazard for the public to use the restroom.

After speaking with the owner and his fiance they feel they are being intimidated by both public authorities and private individuals on a business and personal level. Whatever anyone's perceptions there is no excuse for intimidating or threatening someone's child. That is inexcusable.

If anyone is truly a supporter of the serviceman involved, attacking the business owners ethnicity is a very irresponsible way of showing that support. It is certainly not patriotic or honorable.

I come from a military family myself, but that doesn't mean that people should fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. Driving someone out of business and intimidating his family is not the way to handle a dispute.

Why is it so unthinkable for organizers and local businesses to communicate with each other? It appears things are escalating over this incident without cause. All parties need to act like mature adults and handle this with reason.

What this entire situation comes down to is poor judgement on the part of the Pizza Guy. Last year he compalined about the American Flag being placed in front of his store. This year he creates another incident over the use of his restroom.

Many of the businesses in New Rochelle sponsered the Parade. Some for $10,000, some for $5,000, some for $1,000, some for $250 and some for less, but regardless of the amount, their business will benefit from their generous support in a very patriotic community.

It would have been much better judgement for the Pizza guy to be supportive of the parade instead of being so hard-headed and working against the efforts of parade organizers to honor our American heroes.

Instead he used very poor judgement both this year and last. He has made his bed and must lie in it. Many community members are justifiably upset over this as they were last year when the pizza guy complained about the American flag in front of his store. I'm sure the fiance will claim that that didn't happen either, but I was there and know better.

We are not promoting hate, but rather stating the facts of the situation.If anyone is threatening anyone, especially a child, that should just stop.

I hope the Pizza guy uses better judgement next year and I hope the City brings a portable toilet or opens the library so we can avoid this Pizza shop and any further unpleasant situations.

We all came to honor our heroes. Nobody wanted a situation like this to distract from the real purpose of being at the Plaza.

At this point it is time to move on and hope for better judgement next year.

Thank you Mr. Parente for the phone call, the olive branch you have extended with leaves and olives growing from Greece, Italy and America. You are a very honorable man for admitting that perhaps there was a miscommunication and the information that you received was not 100% correct. Now that we have personally come to better understanding of the events that transpired we hope that we can move forward, focus on the great work we have all done by being a part of our community. We would appreciate if Mrs. Parente would also correct the wrongs that were done by the comments online that have intact hurt a business, a young boy and a community that needs to stand united against the true enemies.

Maha, a great posting. It is good to put this behind us and turn towards the community needs especially those downtown.

Peter Parente, a wise and righteous move that speaks to your character and commitment and I am sure that commitment also extends to downtown New Rochelle.

Good things happen when good people reflect and follow their better angels.

Maha, I have been very impressed by the maturity you have demonstrated and the wisdom demonstrated by your restraint and comments.

Lets make it a point to ensure that this family receives the benefits and blessings of a community that cares for its own.

NOw, lets put the Armory up on the scoreboard and thanks to both of you and your families for showing those who may think otherwise that people of real quality live down these parts.