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“I came to America for a car and a nice dress,” said Mrs. Caparell, first time I met her. “And a future for my two boys.”

She’s from Thessaloniki, in Greece. She told me this at Caparell’s, the restaurant in her hotel, the Reiss, at 1428 First Avenue downtown. “America grows with tears,” she told me. “My husband died seven years after we married. So I brought my sons to America. We lived in cheap hotel rooms until my boys were around 15. One room! Here in San Diego. I worked in the hotels, cleaning, fixing plumbing, anything to survive. But I put them through school. I’m from the land of Alexander the Great, son of Philip of Macedonia, who said ‘I open the schools, I close the jails.’ You have to work hard. I never saw sunshine.”

She ended up owning this whole block. Now her son John has shortened the restaurant’s name to “Caps Pizza & Bar,” and I’ve heard they have a pretty decent meal deal going. Which is why I'm standing across from Heidy the manager, at her counter. Little stunned by her dramatic looks, actually. “Oh yes,” Heidy says. “We have an all-day, everyday special. Lasagna for two with garlic bread and salad for $14.95."

Only problem? Take-out and delivery only. But most sandwiches and some salads go for around $6-$7.

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