Long time worker part of the family

By Sarah Slayman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Sarah Slayman
Jeff Wohlfarth and Avery Ward.

Jeff Wohlfarth is known to be the “glue” of the Little Italy Ristorante community.

Wohlfarth, a kitchen team member at the business for 26 years, experiences a disability and has been completely adopted by the restaurant’s staff. His primary caretaker recently passed away and the restaurant’s owners have become Wohlfarth’s legal guardians.

Chuck and Janet Ward opened Little Italy Ristorante in 1979 in downtown Groveport. Their son, Nick Ward, operated the business for 38 years. His son and grandson of the founders, Avery Ward, has held the title of CEO for four years. Ward recalls standing on milk crates as a toddler helping the staff form pizzas. The business’s generations have maintained the collective core value of their family roots: community.

In the 1990s, Wohlfarth’s parents were friends with Nick Ward, who gave Jeff a job. Beginning as a dish boy, Wohlfarth advanced to being the best catch-all guy at the restaurant.

Drop a cup of sauce? Wohlfarth already has it cleaned up. Stressed about all the tables you need to bus? He bused them five minutes ago. Both Wohlfarth’s personality and work ethic make coming to work exciting for him, as well as the reason former employees stop back in to say, “Hello.”

“It’s my family,” said Wohlfarth.

While Wohlfarth is valued on the clock, off the clock he is surrounded by the same community. When his mom, his primary care taker, passed away, it prompted Nick Ward and Avery Ward, to step up and become his legal guardians. He’s been under their wing for decades, so it only made sense to them. They help by ensuring his bills are paid and his fridge is filled, but also that his schedule includes a lot of time with people who love him.

He has a friend from Dublin who takes him bowling in New Albany. He’s a good bowler and his record score is 299. It’s well-known that he can hit a strike on command. Wohlfarth is never without a ride or someone to call.

“We take care of one another here, and this is a prime example of that,” said Avery.
Little Italy has grown and expanded to a newer and larger location at 480 Main St. in Groveport. And if you’re not sure what to try there – Wohlfarth recommends his favorite, the BBQ traditional wings!

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