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Thursday, September 6, 2012

How a Motorcycle Accident and A Fire Rekindled a Dream

How a Fire Engine Rescued a Restaurant & Became a Dream On Wheels
Thought for the day: Sometimes adversity helps us rediscover & reinvent dreams we thought were impossible. Here’s a story of how a dream was rekindled by a fire! If this story reminds you of other similar ways that adversity lead to the resurrection or creation of a new dream project, I’d love for you to share it, since it may inspire others & help them find creative ways to reach their dreams.

I must admit, living near NYC has spoiled me. It is easy to find great restaurants just about an hour from home without paying an arm & a leg. However, in Fairfield County CT finding good food at an affordable price is a challenge. Whenever we find one, it closes within a year or two. Jerry, my fiancée, & I have been keeping a running count of good down-to-earth affordable restaurants in Fairfield County that we have loved & lost over the last couple of years.  So far we are up to about 20. It seems that the overhead in CT is high & the economy is tough. Around here, people seem to be willing to pay for atmosphere & food that is overpriced & inferior to reasonable establishments in NYC, but will not frequent the less expensive simple restaurants. It is also hard to find places that stay open late since many people commute into the city & go to bed early.

We discovered a relatively new brick oven pizza restaurant on Blackrock Turnpike, near Fairfield Cinemas at Bullard Square in Bridgeport CT about 2 years ago. Although we often avoid pizza since it is high in carbohydrates & fat, this one was different with thin crusts & healthy unique toppings. We ate there before & after a few movies & were happy to have found a new restaurant.

Late one night, a year & a half ago, we were on our way there after a movie when we saw that the entire street was blocked off by fire engines in front of the restaurant. The fire had occurred earlier in the day. The entire building was virtually demolished. Fortunately, no one was hurt although there had been some close calls.

To our dismay, we assumed we had lost yet another good restaurant. After I heard they planned to rebuild, whenever we went to the movies in Bridgeport, we would drive by to see whether they had reopened.  A sign on the window said it would reopen six or seven months ago, but each time we went, we saw no progress.

A few months ago, we drove by & to our surprise saw a fire engine parked on the street where the restaurant used to be. By the truck, there were some tables & we realized they were selling pizza. At closer inspection, we saw that the fire engine had been retrofitted with a brick oven. The sign on the truck said “Fire Engine Pizza Company.” We stopped & had some of the best pizza I have ever tasted!
Marty McCarthy by his Fire Engine Pizza Oven

With my new iphone in hand & the positive experiences I had doing psychological research about people’s dreams on impromptu interviews on the Dreams On Wheels 2012 Tour, I decided to go back & find out more about how this new creative business literally rose from the ashes in the midst of a recession. I interviewed Marty McCarthy, one of the owners of the restaurant, that burned down a year and a half ago & of the new catering business housed in a fire truck.

When I asked him to tell me about his dreams, I learned that this was not the 1st time he had overcome adversity. Marty had been a volunteer fireman for many years as well as a restaurant manager. He had always dreamed of becoming a professional fireman. A week before his physical exam to become a fireman in 2001, a motorcycle accident & a shattered femur ended his fire fighting aspirations. About a year later he opened his 1st restaurant.

When the fire destroyed his newly opened sit down restaurant, he “tried to make the best out of a bad situation.” He still loved firefighting & always wanted to own a fire engine, but the only way his wife would let him buy one, was if it made money. He designed & had the brick oven built inside the fire engine. On weekends, they will be selling pizza on the street until the sit-down restaurant reopens in a few months. During the week, & after the restaurant reopens, they will take the fire engine to birthday parties & corporate functions as a catering business.
Although I recorded the interview on my iphone, most of it simply won’t download to my computer (note to self, learn more about your iphone). The clip above, is Marty’s advice to people working on their dreams when challenged by financial, medical or other problems.

What’s your dream? Have you rediscovered older dreams like Marty did, when adversity struck? I’d love to hear your stories, please share them. They may help someone struggling to see how to accomplish their dreams. Thanks!


C. S. Wimsey said...

Great story. Life can be hard like this, but at the risk of cliche - we have to play the hand we are dealt. If you are creative and determined enough, even the worst hand can be a winner. I'm learning this the hard way with my own crisis and dreams. I found the door I thought I'd wanted shut in my face - my legal career was over due to illness. I looked around blindly for a long time, not seeing the other, more exciting doors, starting to open. That is the tricky bit you have to spot, which Marty managed to do. Well done Marty!
Keep up the good work all of you!
C. S. Wimsey

Barbara Lavi said...

Thanks for sharing your story C.S. Wimsey! I would love to hear more. I just visited your website & may be in touch to write about your journey which could help others struggling with illnesses in a post.

Maggie Malone said...

That was a very inspiring story! I think things happened for a reason. Some of these occurrences give us valuable lessons, and others are to give us vision. And despite the fire and the motorcycle incident, Marty made the best out of his bad situation and created something better. He is truly an exemplary role model!

Tracy Pierre said...

That is true, Maggie. At times, adversities and bad occurrences will show the way and open doors for new opportunities. It may seem a little tough, but once you pass the hard part, the reward is sweet. And in Marty’s case, it is tasty. :D

Belinda Jefferson said...

This story inspired me to move and accomplish something, even if just for this day. Marty’s strength is very admirable. After two difficult times, when everybody would have understood if he fell apart, he didn’t. He even bloomed. And what’s nice is that along with that redemption, he merged his misfortunes with his dreams. :)

Barbara Lavi said...

Thank you Belinda, every step you take towards your dreams is a step in the right direction. Sometimes just starting on the path gives you the strength to open new doors & meet new people who can help you progress faster. So by all means, start today! I will be doing a follow up on Marty's progress. His restaurant has reopened & it is awesome!

Raleigh Crowl said...

Wow, this is yet another inspiring story. We all experience broken dreams, but we don’t usually have the same perception of what it means. Some wallow in misery forever, while some rise above the situation. I guess the motorcycle accident didn’t just happen, it actually happened for a reason (though I still think the party at fault should be held responsible).

Barbara Lavi said...

Thanks Raleigh! I agree it is a great story & we all can learn from it. Broken dreams does not mean that you have to abandon your dreams, just find a workaround & incorporate it into your new dreams.