Michael Tepedino and Diane Tepedino seized the opportunity to help relocate a family to the Poconos in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s destruction.      

STROUDSBURG, PA: On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Today, 46-year-old Puerto Rican refugee José Guerra is re-establishing his life in Pennsylvania. He has successfully relocated thanks to local business owners, Michael and Diane Tepedino, who have generously sponsored José and his family.

When asked about the experience, Mike said, “Diane and I wanted to find a way to help after Hurricane Maria. We considered sending supplies or donating money, but we wanted to see our direct impact on a family in need. That is when we reached out to our employees Carlos Cepeda Colon and Daniel Rivera, who have relatives in Puerto Rico. Carlos introduced us to the Guerra family and we wanted to help. We offered José a position at our restaurant, Garlíc Prime Steak & Seafood, where he could work to support his family. When we found out that he needed financial assistance, to relocate, we wanted to help with that too!”

Puerto Rico has not experienced a storm of this magnitude since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928. AIR Worldwide estimates Hurricane Maria has caused approximately $40 to $85 billion worth of damage to insured properties and vehicles, not including boats or uninsured property. This Category 5 storm destroyed supermarkets, gas stations, hospitals, schools and businesses. Countless American citizens were left without food, water, power, and like José, jobs.

José was a chef at the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, but because of the damage from Hurricane Maria, management had to let him go. Meanwhile in Stroudsburg, Head Chef Carlos and Sous Chef Daniel, worked at Garlíc Prime Steak & Seafood. Once José was offered a position at Garlíc, Mike and Diane learned that José would need financial assistance to relocate. Mike and Diane were eager to help the Guerra family.

On Saturday, December 9, José arrived in Newark, New Jersey. José’s wife, Ivelisse Mercado, and two sons José, 17, and Abimelec, 13, will be joining him in Stroudsburg on December 26. Garlíc is excited for José’s arrival, as he has mentored both Daniel and Carlos in the culinary arts. Carlos says José has extensive food knowledge and can prepare anything ranging from Indian to Chinese to New American cuisine. Daniel notes that the Tepedinos were such a huge help and that José would not be here without them.

About Garlíc Prime Steak & Seafood: Garlίc Prime Steak & Seafood is the only upscale dining experience in the Poconos, proudly serving New American cuisine. Located at 907 Main Street in Stroudsburg, Garlίc’s signature menu offers only the highest quality food available, featuring hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, gluten free options, and farm-to-table dishes. With a full-service bar and team of professional mixologists, Garlίc is proud of their extensive wine list, fresh house-made sangrias, hand-crafted martinis, and seasonal-infused spirits. Live entertainment is available Thursday through Sunday, and there are happy-hour specials from 4pm to 6pm Monday through Friday. Garlίc is more than dinner, it’s an experience. Visit us at garlicrestaurantbar.com.