Mattituck pizzeria manager battling cancer; fundraiser Tuesday night

04/19/2015 8:00 AM |
A fundraiser to benefit Michelangelo's Pizzeria manager Felipe Rodriguez, who was recently diagnosed with liver cancer, will be held Tuesday, April 21. (Credit: Rachel Young)

A fundraiser to benefit Michelangelo’s Pizzeria manager Felipe Rodriguez, who was recently diagnosed with liver cancer, will be held Tuesday, April 21. (Credit: Rachel Young)

If you’ve ever stopped by Michelangelo’s Pizzeria in Mattituck for a soda and a slice, chances are good you’ve seen Felipe Rodriguez, the restaurant’s smiling, suit-wearing manager.

Recently, however, Mr. Rodriguez was diagnosed with liver cancer and is now unable to work. To help raise money for the Wantagh resident’s medical bills, Michelangelo’s will host a fundraiser at its Mattituck Plaza restaurant Tuesday, April 21, at 6 p.m.

“We’re helping him out as much as we can,” said Michelangelo’s employee Megan Blanchard of Riverhead, who is organizing the fundraiser. “He has two little kids. It’s not just him; he has a family.”

Tickets for Tuesday’s event cost $50 each and include a buffet of appetizers, salads and entrees and a chinese auction. One hundred percent of proceeds will benefit Mr. Rodriguez and his wife and children, Ms. Blanchard said. Tickets can be picked up at the Main Road eatery.

“I made 120 tickets and I think we have 30 left,” Ms. Blanchard said Friday. “We’re hoping for a good turnout.”

In addition to the fundraiser, Ms. Blanchard has set up a Go Fund Me page for Mr. Rodriguez. As of Friday afternoon, more than $7,500 had been raised.

“It’s great,” Ms. Blanchard said. “I [originally] put the goal at $5,000 and we exceeded that so I made it $15,000. I feel like if [Mr. Rodriguez] has a substantial amount of money to at least relax and get better, then he won’t have to worry about where money is coming from.”

Veronica Jacobson of Riverhead, an employee at Michelangelo’s, called Mr. Rodriguez a “very hardworking guy.”

“He always comes into work with a smile and puts his employees and customers first,” she said. “He cares a lot for the business and shows up with a great attitude every day.”

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