With one post of her Facebook and another on her Twitter account yesterday, Lisa Giungo (of Lisa G Cafe Wine Bar) raised $250 and two plane tickets for her longtime friend and colleague, Lionel Geuskens.
And that was just in one day, "so I know I can get him home," she says.
The former chef and owner of Trente-Cinq 35, Lionel Geuskens put his restaurant up for sale last week because of mounting medical bills in his fight against cancer, which he says he has been battling since February.
"I had to make a really tough decision to take care of my health or to take care of the restaurant," he says. He chose his health.
Now, Giungo is petitioning the Phoenix restaurant community -- quite successfully, so far -- for the funds to send their friend back home to Belgium to face the illness with his family. She has even set up a blog for on-line donations.
The two restaurants, Trente-Cinq 35 and Lisa G Café Wine Bar, are neighbors -- both located on the corner of North 7th St. and Sheridan -- and the two chefs worked together at Coupe des Tartes before opening their own places.
When she called him yesterday and told him what she'd done, Geuskens didn't want the help -- but Giungo was not having it.
"I told him 'tough shit,'" she says. "Sometimes you have to accept the help you're given."
Geuskens, who will be starting chemotherapy soon, says that he already went through radiation therapy and had surgery nearly a month ago. He has accepted the help from Lisa G, however reluctantly, but doesn't know when he'll be able to get back to Belgium, where his healthcare would be paid for.
"What's most important is to be able to sell the restaurant," he says, "and to be able to get back on my feet and go to the next adventure."
If a positive attitude is the best treatment, we should be seeing Geuskens back on the scene soon. While he's not planning on reopening Trente-Cinq 35 in the future, he says, "I'm not out of the restaurant business."
"I'll be back -- I'll be back with a vengeance."
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