Amongst a sea of trendy boutique shops and upscale restaurants, there's been a constant in Portland's Old Port for nearly 30 years. That constant has been Anthony's Italian Kitchen, an old school joint serving Italian-American classics since 1992, including pizza by the slice. Anthony's has outlasted some of its most notable neighbors along Middle Street, including Videoport and Bull Moose. However, that survival was in jeopardy until owner Anthony Barrasso received a call this past weekend that ensured his Italian Kitchen will remain an Old Port mainstay for awhile longer.

Shared on Twitter by The Barstool Fund, founder of Barstool Sports Dave Portnoy called Barrasso with the good news just moments before Barrasso was set to celebrate his 80th birthday. The good news is that Anthony's Italian Kitchen has been selected to be supported by The Barstool Fund, a concept that Portnoy took from another fundraising effort called the 30 Fund.  The Barstool Fund will cover a number of expenses for Anthony's until they can open and operate as they did prior to the pandemic. One of the key conditions for receiving assistance from The Barstool Fund was that restaurants had to be keeping a full payroll throughout the pandemic.

The Barstool Fund has raised more than 35 million dollars and has helped dozens of businesses stay open over the past few months. That includes another Maine business, Mae's Cafe in Bath, who received a call from Portnoy last month.

In the FaceTime call with Portnoy, Barrasso shared his love of Boston sports, and a little personal family history and why Anthony's Italian Restaurant is so important to him and his family, including losing his wife several years ago. For many longtime Portlanders, Anthony's has felt like family, especially when popping in for a quick slice during lunch hour.

Unfortunately, The Barstool Fund can't save all the great restaurants on the brink right now. But for those questioning if it's worth it to hold on, it is. There is a light at the end of this tunnel.

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