Guzzo family’s ‘Notte in Bianco’ raises $250,000 for youth mental health

Annual dress-white fundraiser supports children’s psychological well-being

The 13th annual edition of Notte in Bianco, held on Sept. 8 in support of the Guzzo Family’s foundation for youth mental health, raised more than $250,000 for youth mental health initiatives.

Vince Guzzo (second from left) is seen here with Foodtastic restaurant chain president and CEO Peter Mammas, along with Nicky Didaskalou (far right) and Shireen Morrissey.

Nearly 400 guests mingled, dined and danced the night away during the late-summer, dress-white fundraiser held at the Terrebonne home of Maria and Vincent Guzzo of Cinémas Guzzo fame.

Mental health research

Maria Guzzo, vice-president and head of charitable donations for the company, specializes in youth mental health at McGill University. Her husband, Vince Guzzo, president and CEO of Cinémas Guzzo, became well-known across Canada and elsewhere as a Dragon on the hit TV show Dragon’s Den.

Both have directed their philanthropic energies in support of youth mental health research, hoping to offer children and teens a better outlook on life through new research funded by their charitable organization.

Each year, several hundred guests pay $1,000 a ticket to take part in the Notte in Bianco event, which is regarded by many prominent Montrealers as a must-attend on the city’s social calendar.

This year’s Notte in Bianco supporters had a chance to sample some of the exotic offerings of Paris-based women’s fragrance maker Guerlain.

Dressed for the occasion

Based partly on a summertime party tradition the Guzzos brought back to Montreal from the Hamptons on the ocean coast of New York State where they have spent many of their summers, dress white is considered ‘de rigueur’ each year at Notte in Bianco.

If not for the Covid pandemic, the year 2022 would have marked year 15 for Notte in Bianco. “I think we’re coming back pretty quickly,” Vince Guzzo said in an interview with Newsfirst Multimedia, referring to the more than two-year-long pandemic.

Returning to normal

Regarding the family’s business, Guzzo was guardedly optimistic about its prospects – especially with the pandemic now retreating. “I think things are coming back pretty quickly – a quick return to normality,” he said, while noting that Tom Cruise’s summertime hit, Top Gun: Maverick, delivered well at the box office. He was hoping for business to be back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the last quarter of 2022.

Each year, several hundred guests pay $1,000 a ticket to take part in Notte in Bianco

Vince and Maria Guzzo, seen here during the 2022 Notte in Bianco on Sept. 8, hold the event each year as a fundraiser for youth mental health initiatives. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Although Cineworld, the second-largest movie theatre chain globally after AMC Theatres, filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 7, and Guzzo expected AMC to follow suit despite their insistence otherwise, he suggested the downturn for these giants may lead to opportunities for medium and small players in the industry.

“We want to see what the opportunities are with the bankruptcies of those theatres, how many theatres they’re going to let go if any, what are the landlords going to do, can we strike some deals,” said Guzzo.

A keen interest in films

Following his arrival in Quebec from Italy in 1967, Vince Guzzo’s father, Angelo, became one of the pioneers of independent multi-screen movie theatres in Canada.

As a business person, he built a solid reputation for himself in the screening of movies, earning widespread respect in the industry. Vince Guzzo started going to the movies with his parents when he was four and soon became fascinated with the selection of films to be seen.

He developed what he calls a flair for a good film. During his teens, he was actively involved in the family business. His father took him along on many business trips to the United States to select movies for their programming.