Citrus Cafe Owner Accused of Stealing Customers' Credit Cards Bragged His Presence was Key at Eatery

When a newspaper gets a good quote, sometimes you don't know it's good until much later.

Such is the case with Andrew Paparella Jr., owner of Andrew's New American at Citrus Cafe in Chandler, who's been accused by Chandler police of stealing his customers' credit numbers in a scheme to make a few bucks.

Back in January, Paparella gave an interview to the Arizona Republic, describing why he was changing the French restaurant's name and menu:

Andrew Paparella Jr. debuted Andrew's New American at Citrus Café on Jan. 9 at 2330 N. Alma School Road, on the west side of Alma School, just north of Warner Road. Paparella, who purchased the 19-year-old Citrus Café in May 2007, said he wanted to change the concept for a while, and the economy helped persuade him.

"Business had really slowed down, so we could either hope to ride it out or give it a breath of fresh life," Paparella said.

His money woes seem relevant to the current accusations, don't they? But the richest quote, retrospectively, came later in the piece:

"The food is absolutely amazing," Paparella said, and pointed to his constant presence in the restaurant as the key to quality.

"With me being in the restaurant every night, then you're guaranteed that the food is being prepared with my name on it," he said, "and my satisfaction is the look on the guest's face that it's the best thing that they've ever eaten."

Media reports (see links below) suggest this is an airtight case. If so, it's easy to imagine that what Paparella really thought the look on guests' faces resembled that of sheep.

Channel 5 (KPHO-TV)
Interview of masseuse who helped nab Paparella

Arizona Republic

Channel 15 (KNXV-TV)

New Times post on eatery name change

New Times Best of Phoenix 2006

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.