LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) – Two pink flowers lay on the ground outside Ciao on Payne Street, placed there as a memorial and a painful reminder of one of the restaurant’s cooks, killed at that spot Friday afternoon.

Bridgette Pizzonia opened her restaurants doors Saturday with a heavy heart, know she wouldn’t be greeted by a face that has been by her side since she opened the Italian bistro and bar.

“It took me a while to even walk in the door. He's usually the first face I see,” she said. "I mean you don't expect that."

According to Louisville Metro Police, Nick Morris, a chef at Ciao, was stabbed while standing outside the restaurant taking a break around 1:30 Friday afternoon. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died in surgery two hours later. Metro Police is still investigating the case as a homicide and is looking for any information about the suspect.

"We feel like we're the Ciao family,” Pizzonia said. “[Morris] started with us here and he's made this grow and he's grown with us. We're family."

Pizzonia remembers Morris as a hard worker who always looked out for his coworkers.

"He worked six days a week,” she said. “He would ride past and see we were busy at night. He would call, "Hey, do you need me to come in and help?"

But as much as he cared for his work family, Pizzonia said Morris’s true love was for his three daughters.

"He would paint their nails, braid their hair. He was just an awesome dad,” she said. "Oh my God, I've thought of nothing but them because I see them every day. It was tough. It was really tough. I feel so bad for them.”

An Italian restaurant, Ciao carries that description past just the pasta and the pizza. For Pizzonia and the rest of the restaurant staff, working at Ciao doesn’t just make a person a colleague. It makes them family. Pizzonia and Ciao are raising money to help cover Morris’s funeral expenses and to help set up a trust fund for his daughters.

“He loved those girls,” she said. “I mean that was everything that he lived for so he would have done anything to make sure those girls were taken care of.”

Pizzonia tells WHAS11 she is planning more fundraisers to help Morris’s family. She has also set up a GoFundMe account where people can donate, which can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/nicholas-morris-memorial.