Cicero ex-president starts job at pizzeria

April 8, 2010 4:35:41 AM PDT
Former Cicero town president Betty Loren-Maltese has begun work as a hostess for a popular pizzeria in Oak Park.

She recently returned to the Chicago area after serving seven years in prison for racketeering and fraud.

On Wednesday night, Loren-Maltese showed customers to their tables and arranged the menus while they were seated in her new role as restaurant hostess. But Betty Loren-Maltese is no ordinary hostess. She also autographed pizza boxes and posed for pictures with customers. The former Cicero town president is a pseudo-celebrity.

"When God closes one door he opens another. Maybe this wasn't the exact door I wanted opened, but it's a start," said Loren-Maltese.

After serving seven years in federal prison, Loren-Maltese says she was left with nothing. She needed to start somewhere. So when the owners of Salerno's Pizza offered her a job she jumped on it.

"The thing is if you do your time, and you're trying to get started again, start something new with your life, why not?" said Kevin Hamm, Salerno's manager.

The owners say she deserved a second chance - and they also figured the publicity that accompanies Loren-Maltese would probably bring in come customers.

"I told them not everyone loves me, but I think I have more friends than political enemies," said Loren-Maltese.

The years of prison food helped her lose weight. Also gone are the fake eyelashes and gobs of make-up she was once known for.

"If I didn't see the cars and all of the camera crews, I don't know if I would have recognized her," said Stephanie Konkol, customer.

And while to some the work may seem a little beneath someone who at one time ran an entire town, Loren-Maltese disagrees.

"I've worked since I was 14. I've done all types of jobs...a lot better than the jobs I had in prison," said Loren-Maltese.

Loren-Maltese describes her age as 59 years and 15 months. She is making minimum wage. But she says her main priority right now is to regain custody of her 14-year-old daughter. She lost custody while in prison and says she needs stable employment to convince the court to return her daughter.