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Pel Bay restaurant stars in indie film

Lucca Fine Italian Cuisine served more than a pair of lovebirds when Brandon and Abby Sanders dined at the eatery on Sunday, July 20 – it transformed into a set for the stars.

“Live to Dream,” a Haromar Pictures independent film about the trials and tribulations of love, utilized the restaurant’s delicate décor as a backdrop for their New York City scene.

Restaurant owner Lucia Mariani said she was surprised when someone came to scout out the facility a few months ago and shocked to hear it was chosen for the film just eight weeks later.

The Morris Park resident said she was not only glad to help the emerging artists, but also thrilled to have her 3019 Westchester Avenue eatery featured on the big screen.

“Film lives forever, so to see the restaurant in it was really cool,” she commented.

Her second shock came when the movie’s director and lead role actor, Burton Lorber, invited her interaction.

“They surprised me because they told me I’d have a part in the film,” she explained about her role as a waitress.

While her minute of pouring coffee on film didn’t vary much from her daily duties at the restaurant, Mariani said the preceding events were a far cry from her morning routine.

Prior to her on-air appearance, she received the royal treatment from a hair stylist and makeup artist. And though it was dramatically different from her average appearance, Mariana commented, “It was nice to have someone pamper you when you’re always working.”

The 1,200 square foot facility then revealed a romantic atmosphere where the lead roles dined over discussions of their days ahead.

Meanwhile, the building’s distinct decorations allowed for a separate shooting in the rear where the protagonist, Brandon, greeted his old college buddy and womanizer Jeff Foster, who later attempts to steal his wife. 

“It was a very interesting experience because Lucia allowed us to film while there were customers in the restaurant,” Lorber said. “It was the most pleasant location we’ve been to.”

Lorber said that after the film’s finished shooting in September, he plans on having several screenings before submitting the movie to various film festivals around the country.

Although Mariani received a small compensation for offering her venue as the set, she said, “It was really the experience of having them here that was really nice.”

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