Diaspora

COVID takes local restaurant owner on a journey – Sharonherald

Rain showers this evening with overcast skies overnight. Low 34F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%..
Rain showers this evening with overcast skies overnight. Low 34F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
Updated: April 8, 2022 @ 7:41 pm
Serving the Shenango Valley and Mercer County Area
Joseph Altenor shows paintings at his Haitian Sensation coffee house and restaurant in Sharon. The paintings depict the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, his native land. Altenor survived a severe case of COVID-19 that forced his restaurant to close for three months.
Martha Currie, left, an employee at Hatian Sensation, talks with Kristine Altenor, who with her husband Joseph owns the Sharon coffee house and restaurant. Both Altenors suffered from COVID-19 over the winter, forcing them to close the business for three months. The couple credit the community for helping them financially get back on their feet.
Joseph Altenor, owner of Haitian Sensation, cooks at his Sharon restaurant, which features Haitian cuisine. Altenor suffered a severe case of COVID-19 in the winter forcing he and his wife Kristine to close the coffee house and restaurant. A devout Christian, Altenor said the experience has led him to believe God has big plans for him.
Joseph Altenor, owner of Haitian Sensation, left, talks with customers at his coffee house and restaurant in Sharon. Altenor suffered a severe cast of COVID-19 in the winter which forced his restaurant to close for three months. The business has reopened, and Altenor said he’s ready for a new chapter in his life.
Michael Roknick, Herald Business Editor

Joseph Altenor shows paintings at his Haitian Sensation coffee house and restaurant in Sharon. The paintings depict the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, his native land. Altenor survived a severe case of COVID-19 that forced his restaurant to close for three months.
Michael Roknick, Herald Business Editor
Lying in a hospital bed at UPMC Horizon’s Farrell hospital in December, Joseph Altenor’s COVID-19 symptoms took a dark turn.
Altenor began talking to his wife Kristine about his days as a Hickory High coach.
But he never coached there – or anywhere in the area.
“He was delusional,’’ his wife said.
This past winter took the couple on rough journey – but more so for Altenor.
Altenor grew up in Haiti and emigrated to the U.S in 1984 when he was 19.
Joseph Altenor, owner of Haitian Sensation, cooks at his Sharon restaurant, which features Haitian cuisine. Altenor suffered a severe case of COVID-19 in the winter forcing he and his wife Kristine to close the coffee house and restaurant. A devout Christian, Altenor said the experience has led him to believe God has big plans for him.
After landing in Sharon in 1985, he established Haitian Sensation, a restaurant featuring cuisine of the Caribbean nation. A devout Christian, he donates back to his impoverished native land.
Meeting on a mission to Haiti in 2014, the Reynolds couple married on Feb. 15, 2020. Things were looking bright for their restaurant along Shenango Avenue in Sharon.
Then at the start of December, Altenor began feeling ill. He got worse after a week. When he passed out at home, Kristine whisked him off to an urgent care center.
“The whole room began spinning,’’ Altenor recalled of that visit. “And then I passed out again.’’
He was rushed to a hospital emergency room, where he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
It got worse.
“They told me I had double pneumonia and COVID,’’ he said.
There were times when mentally he was just out of it. But the worst was yet to come.
Joseph Altenor, owner of Haitian Sensation, left, talks with customers at his coffee house and restaurant in Sharon. Altenor suffered a severe cast of COVID-19 in the winter which forced his restaurant to close for three months. The business has reopened, and Altenor said he’s ready for a new chapter in his life.
As the days passed his blood oxygen level plunged to perilously low levels. Doctors began talking talking of hooking him up to a ventilator – an extreme intervention. and during all of this, Kristine developed COVID.
“I was tired,’’ she said. “But I didn’t have any complications.’’
Fortunately, he didn’t undergo ventilation. and while in the hospital, Altenor said he didn’t suffer from pain.
“But because of my pneumonia it was hard for me to breath,’’ he said. “ I had to focus to remain calm.’’
Alter got the best Christmas gift of his life – he was released from the hospital on Dec. 25. But it wasn’t a smooth transition.
Still very weak, he needed assistance to walk. He found it unnerving – but was cognizant something awaited him.
“God has bigger plans for us,’’ he said.
Martha Currie, left, an employee at Hatian Sensation, talks with Kristine Altenor, who with her husband Joseph owns the Sharon coffee house and restaurant. Both Altenors suffered from COVID-19 over the winter, forcing them to close the business for three months. The couple credit the community for helping them financially get back on their feet.
Through this turmoil the couple closed their restaurant for three months. There’s been an outpouring of donations from internet sites to a free month of rent from Primary Health Network, their landlord.
Reopening in March, the restaurant and coffee shop is back to its regular hours. Altenor said the experience as taught him a few lessons.
“If you don’t think people don’t care, they do’’ he said. “If you don’t think people are paying attention, they are.’’
ONLINE: haitiansensationcoffee.com
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Chance of Rain: 49%
Sunrise: 06:53:31 AM
Sunset: 07:54:48 PM
Humidity: 84%
Wind: SW @ 6 mph
UV Index: 0 Low
Rain showers this evening with overcast skies overnight. Low 34F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
Chance of Rain: 37%
Sunrise: 06:51:53 AM
Sunset: 07:55:51 PM
Humidity: 72%
Wind: W @ 10 mph
UV Index: 3 Moderate
Partly cloudy skies early, then some snow showers later at night. Low 32F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 40%.
Chance of Rain: 24%
Sunrise: 06:50:16 AM
Sunset: 07:56:54 PM
Humidity: 60%
Wind: WNW @ 12 mph
UV Index: 5 Moderate
Partly cloudy in the evening. Increasing clouds with periods of showers after midnight. Low around 35F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Chance of Rain: 52%
Sunrise: 06:48:39 AM
Sunset: 07:57:57 PM
Humidity: 69%
Wind: S @ 11 mph
UV Index: 4 Moderate
Overcast with rain showers at times. Low 49F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Chance of Rain: 24%
Sunrise: 06:47:02 AM
Sunset: 07:59 PM
Humidity: 64%
Wind: W @ 6 mph
UV Index: 6 High
Partly cloudy with late night showers or thunderstorms. Low 51F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Chance of Rain: 56%
Sunrise: 06:45:27 AM
Sunset: 08:00:03 PM
Humidity: 74%
Wind: SSE @ 10 mph
UV Index: 4 Moderate
Overcast with rain showers at times. Low 58F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Chance of Rain: 54%
Sunrise: 06:43:51 AM
Sunset: 08:01:06 PM
Humidity: 63%
Wind: SSW @ 13 mph
UV Index: 4 Moderate
Cloudy with occasional rain showers. Low 49F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
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