Local Johns Creek restaurant says goodbye to mascot

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – On Sunday, Feb. 23, RosaMia Italian Restaurant’s staff bid farewell to one of their most special family members. The 4-year-old Pomeranian showed up at their back door and had become the restaurant’s mascot.

Although he was originally named Nicholas, workers at RosaMia Italian Restaurant on Jones Bridge Road decided to give him their own personal nickname as Carli, named for the late husband of owner Rosa Bitussi, who passed away about 18 months ago.

“I truly felt like Carli was sent for a reason to RosaMia. He was such a distracter from everything going on after my husband passing away,” Bitussi said.

Carli was found in March 2013 behind the restaurant in a scrap yard where he had been living in a bunker he had dug for himself.

“When we first found him, he was very skittish,” Bitussi said. “At first, he wouldn’t come near us. But as time progressed, he began eating out of our hands. We were never able to pet him though.”

The restaurant itself subsidized all the food costs for Carli. They provided Carli with high-end products like Pedigree dog food and treats.

“He would sleep all day and then around five or six in the evening, he would be anticipating us. We would either feed him dog food or our restaurant’s meat balls, which were his favorite,” Bitussi said.

Someone from the RosaMia staff would even come on a Sunday, when the restaurant was closed, to specially feed Carli.

“He was very well fed and cared after.” Bitussi said. “He was a very grateful dog.”

As the year progressed, Carli became an important aspect of the restaurant.

“He slowly became our restaurant’s mascot. Customers would come in and ask where Carli was,” she said.

However, as the winter season rolled by, the staff members and Bitussi’s son feared for the dog’s health and decided to rescue him.

“We sedated Carli so he would immediately fall asleep when he returned to his bunker. Then my son dug through Carli’s little hideout to rescue him.” she said. “He refused to leave until we had rescued Carli.”

Eventually, Mia and her son took him to a vet and considered formally adopting Carli.

“All the staff members at RosaMia were willing to chip in for the vet’s fee,” she said, “and we let Carli live in our garage until the appointment.”

At the vet, it was discovered that Carli was in excellent shape, health-wise, and even three pounds overweight, which was fortunate considering he had to weather the cold seasons. Also, a microchip was found and Carli’s rightful owner was contacted.

Carli was a rescue dog even before RosaMia’s staff found him; he went home with his rightful owner on Sunday, Feb. 23 where he now lives with another dog and cat.

“The owner was very grateful and emotional at first when taking him back.” Bitussi said. “We sometimes feel a void, but we at least know that Carli is warm now.”

JC 03-06-14