Moms Say Niles Pizzeria Locked Them Out During Storm

NILES, Ill. (CBS) — A pizzeria in Niles is being criticized for its alleged treatment of two women and the five children they had with them at the height of Tuesday night’s storm.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Cheryl Syed and Aries Mushtaq had picked up their five children from swimming Tuesday night to take them to Cici’s Pizza, at 8525 W. Golf Rd. in Niles. By the time they arrived, there was lightning, 50 mph winds and rain.

Syed says the children, especially, were scared. When they ran to the Cici’s, the door was locked even though the place was open and there were customers inside.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Syed says she had a couple of coupons for Cici’s in her hand and that an employee refused to let the group inside, apparently thinking they just wanted to get in out of the storm.

The manager of a nearby Jo-Ann Fabrics saw what was happening and waved the group inside his store for safety.

Aries Mushtaq admits it might have seemed as if they were just looking for shelter, but, with the “natural disaster going on,” the people at Cici’s should have let them in anyway, whether “we were coming to eat there or not”.

Syed says she’s appalled at her treatment by a now-formerly family favorite of hers.

A Cici’s manager denies the less-than-neighborly treatment, saying, “We don’t do that here.”

  • southside

    Moms: get a life. If I called WBBM every time somebody hurt my feelings, they’d have to add staff. Could the race card be next?

  • Ted

    Southside, you get a life. If the pizza place really did that, they’re total a-holes. I hope your mother or kid gets the door slammed in their face one day. Of course, you probably don’t have either, which explains why you’re such WT punk.

  • Close Your Door & Don't Forget To Turn Off Your Light's !

    No What This Woman Found Out Is You Don’t Deal With A Snot !

    Now Everybody Knows Not To Buy Pizza From a Snot !

  • Jackie

    I think the family was denied entry into the pizzeria, because the employee assumed that they were Muslim.

    • bob rinaldi

      Jackie, this is the owner of Cicis. Slanderous comment. Almost half my customers are Muslim because of our vast array of vegetarian options. It is a shame that no one called me for my side of the story!!!!

  • Joe Patroni

    Look at the facts. Cici’s is in the clear here. The doors were liocked because they were closed to new diners. Many restaurants and retailers lock the doors so that “new” customers don’t enter, yet as each customer or diner on premises finishes, they are let out by an employee or security. These women just wanted to be let in for dinner after the restaurant closed for new customers. This is a busy commercial area of Niles and she had many options.

  • bob rinaldi

    This is the owner of the store! THIS DID NOT HAPPEN!!! I have many guests that were locked in the restaurant because of a power outage and they will confirm that WE DID NOT DENY ACCESS to this family!!! We are normally told to not comment on stories like this but I feel strongly that I need to set the record straight. We had just lost power and as a precaution we locked the entry doors but not the exit doors. We were concerned about the fire hazard that 2 large ovens that were abruptly shut down can cause without proper ventilation and were working on securing everything in the store. There was a regular guest standing by the exit door watching lightning in the distance when these people approached. He told them that he thought we were closed since we had no power. I heard this exchange from around the counter area and yelled for Robert (customer) to let them in if they were looking to get out of the storm. He offered them entry but they ran off screaming obscenities at him. We, at no time had any employee standing by the door locking people out of the restaurant. I wish WBBM had the guts to call me, the owner for my side of the story

  • southside

    Hey Bob, sorry you had to deal with these whiners. WBBM won’t call you, becasue they have a story they can run on an otherwise slow news day. Note the race card will come out next.

    • bob rinaldi

      Thanks southside for your support. It’s hard enough running a business in this economy without having to defend myself from this garbage. WBBM has a great story. Why ruin it with my side of the story!!!

      • bob rinaldi

        And by the way, this was past 9pm and we were already closed for business at the time.

  • go go gir

    too bad, nobody wanted to listen to their screaming children running around the restaurant during the storm. Too lazy and over indulgent to cook dinner yourselvres, have to pig out on pizza, and then mcdonalds

  • pizza eater

    The pizzas at Cici’s taste worse than frozen pizza..

  • Vince

    The Story Here Is,WHY IS THIS A STORY???

    • bob rinaldi

      Thank you VInce! YOU ARE CORRECT!!

  • Lisa

    I think this reporter should have got both sides of the story so people don’t pass judgement. I guess he is hurting for a story and dumb enough to go with this one. These people said when they got there the storm was hitting? Everybody knew a storm was coming and they decide to go out to eat? And if you were a regular customer you would have known that they close at
    9:00 p.m. I know the owner and the manager and they have small children and wouldn’t have turned a family away from a storm but yes they will turn you away if it is 9:00 and they are closing. And at closing time there will be some people finishing up their food. I hope they are happy they got their name mentioned a few times, now move on to some important things in your life. Hope your not looking for a free buffet. I’m glad they didn’t let you in because if they did and something happened due to the power being out this story would be different I’m sure.

    • bob rinaldi

      Thank you Lisa for your support. You are obviously well aware of the quality of customer service that we provide. Unlike WBBM, I was interviewed by several news organizations today and they ALL decided not to run this story after hearing our side. As the owner I am going to turn this false story into a good for all new guests. Anyone else that wants to experience our customer service today thru Sunday June 26th just print this story and use it as a coupon for a $3.99 buffet price for each member of you party.

      • Cici's Regular Patron

        You know, Bob, you’re still thinking about business. That’s all you think about. You’re offering $3.99 pizza buffet for those who print out this story and bring it to Cici’s?

        I’ve tried bringing coupons to your location and you have NEVER honored them. You say that you’re a franchise and don’t operate that way, and that coupons are not honored at Niles Cici’s. I am a regular at Cici’s, so don’t try to lie to the customers about how you offer coupons and discounts. Because I’ve tried that, and you denied me. Don’t lie.

  • Flindar

    Maybe it was the fuse sticking out of her burqa.

  • Cheli

    I too know the staff and managers at this restaurant. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I didn’t have to be there to know the report was false. I know they would have let them in if they were truly trying to take shelter from the storm. I bet these people are trying to make a buck off of CiCi’s. The people of CiCi’s make you feel like family. I know this because we regularly go into there and we are always treated with respect. I also know for a fact that they love kids because I can tell you all about theirs and they could do the same about mine.

    • Right

      Unfortunately, indians are beginning to play the race card like blacks and hispanics. Unfortunately,the media seems to play into this by not reporting Bob’s story. Fortunately, he’s turning into a benefit for everyone–not just one particular group. Well done, Bob!

  • udontneeedtoknow

    I was in the cicis pizza while this happend i thought cicis was a friendly place but when i saw the denieed entry of that womans family i was suprised DO NOT LIE BOB YOU KNOW IT HAPPENED i was there to see it all so how about this bob go **** yourself

    • bob rinaldi

      Please stop by. I would like to verify that you were there via my video security system!!!! Something tells me you won’t stop by!

  • arvind patel

    Hey bob how come you dont mention that the kids were muslims and the mother was wearing the traditonal muslim head dress and outfit and your racist friend or employee or customer just didnt want to help out the muslim terroists. I was there sitting in my car laughing my ass off when that person wouldnt let them in and the ladies went balistic.
    Bob you know the peoples name and you know what happend. why havent you reached out to the family and offered them a free meal or something like that. I know if they were white people you would!

    • bob rinaldi

      I’ve been told not to respond to ignorant statements like yours, but here goes!!! You were in your car laughing???? Laughing at children being turned away in a tornado??? You were able to see my front door in the pitch black of the night were there was no power??? Behind all the bushes that cover my entrance area??? Would you like to watch actual video of the 10 to 15 muslims that were already in the store at that time or does that not fit well with your story????? I guess a free meal would make up for all these false statements??? Is that all they wanted?? That would have made it right?? Shame on you for pulling out the race card but I guess that’s what ignorant racists like you do!

    • udontneeedtoknow

      actually i was there the woman was white

  • udontneeedtoknow

    but one kid was kinda tan

  • udontneeedtoknow

    oh and it was about 8:30 not 9 dumb***

  • Left out in the rain

    I am the person who contacted Cici’s then the media about being initially turned away during a Tordado warning with five children ranging in age from 3 to 13 years old. I do not believe we were turned away do race or religion. I have been to Cici’s many times before, I am white and I am a Muslim. I wear typical American clothes, no hijab, no burka. My extended family however do look Muslim, we have eaten there together and they have always been courteous to us and have even prepared specialized pizza. The reason I was so upset and contacted the media is because I sent emails to Cici’s regarding the situation. I could not find any info except for the stores main phone number and I got the machine. So I emailed corporate, when I didn’t receive any response I became angry, how can a family establishment not even give me an explanation or apology about the way we were treated. That is when I left a comment on WBBM homepage. When WBBM contacted me about an interview, I agreed, thinking Cici’s would finally contact me. The first time anyone got in touch with me, was when Bob the owner, emailed me. Instead of getting an explanation or apology I was attacked. I was called a liar and was told that everything I said was false. I agreed I wasn’t sure if it was a customer or employee at the door, but I know there were employees inside they should have said LET THEM IN after we said we needed to come in for safety. We were blocked from coming in, if we weren’t why would I risk our safety by running to a different store to seek shelter. And about me wanting free food, that is the cheapest place around, I would think someone who would falsely accuse a restaurant to get free food, would at least do it to a five star restaurant not a pizza buffet.

    • StupidPeopleFTW

      You’re an idiot for taking your kids out in that storm, you do realize that right? You should have been taking them home like a good parent would have. Instead, YOU intentionally placed them directly in a supercell thunderstorm out of pure ignorance. You deserve nothing than an investigation from child services for doing something so careless and dumb.

  • mom like me

    If there is a video of what happened, why don’t you put it up on youtube or at least send it to the mom to show her what actualy happened.

  • left out in the rain

    Yes ! please post the video or send it to me. If it shows that what I said is false, I will apologize. But it won’t, so I don’t think I, or anyone else will see the video. Otherwise why not show it and sue me foe slander or defamation.

  • Duke

    Lets just think about this for a second. A person claims they were there when this happened. That means they paid, and the electricity was “on” at that time, so there would be video proof of them being there.
    Power goes off, I would bet power goes off to the cameras also. So at this time there would be no new recordings, at least until power came up. If the power was off, no lights, no exhaust fans to cool the ovens, NO SURVEILLANCE, how would there be a recording of this incident?
    It seems pretty basic to me, if someone was an existing customer they would be recorded coming into the store. If power is out and someone tries to get into store, no recording. That is even assuming they have external cameras to capture events outside the front door and not just at the important places, like the cash registers.

  • george

    fire the reporter and take this story down its BS because the news report it different from the lady’s story proving she is lying maybe wbbm should send out a apologize letter to the restaurant for false info ANY LAWYERS WANT THE CASE

  • Left out in the rain

    How is my story different then what the report is? And I must say, as a business that probably has a lot of money in ingredients in their freezers, most likely has a generator to produce electricity for certain appliances and security cameras. ALL I EVER WANTED WAS AN EXPLANATION OR APOLOGY !!!!
    I still never received one.

  • LCR

    @left out in the rain… If all you ever TRULY wanted “was na explanation or apology” you should have went directly to the establishment instead of the news. You were obviously out for more then that…
    In your first “story” you claim CiCi’s was a favorite – then you go on to rip it calling it a less than 5 star pizza buffet.
    You had every chance to get ahold of the manager of this restaurant to get an explanation or even try and explain your story but yet you chose the news… If you were only looking for an apology why did WBBM have to get involved.
    I also find it ridiculous that WBBM still has not commented on the “otherside” to this story.
    I love how you also assume that there is a generator. It seems like everything in your story is based on an assumption. I understand you weren’t thinking clearly at the time, as I too was caught out in that storm with my 3 children but it surely is nobdoy’s fault… Stop blaming a business.
    I have been to this location and can say that it is a wonderful, family friendly place and the employees including the owner Bob are wonderful and would never treat someone the way you are trying to make them out to be…
    Remember people there is always two sides to a story. The fact that she can admit that she went directly to the news instead of trying to rectify the situation with the owner is ridiculous right there!!!

  • Left out in the rain

    LCR…..If you read the previous comment I made, you would know that I did try to get Cici’s to contact me. It was only later when news agencies were asking people to post storm stories, that I did. When I did the interview I still hadn’t been contacted by ANYONE from Cici’s. If you were in my shoes, had children with you and only minutes away from where asn actual Tornado touched down (Prospect Heights) and you tried to gain access to a safe place that already had customers inside, not to mention that you were going there to eat and have spent money there almost every week as a loyal customer. But instead of getting your family immediately safe had to run to another store, how would you feel. Then you tru to get an explanation and no one can give you 30 seconds of their time to say it was a misunderstanding or something. You too would be angry and agree to tell your story. And by the way except for not being granted entry, I never bad-mouthed Cici’s and have came to their defense when people have criticized them for ratial or religious profiling.

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