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Patrons praise restaurant staff near Boston Marathon blast

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Elise Amendola/AP/File

(Read caption) An April 16 photo shows the front of the Forum restaurant, the scene of one of two bombings near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, the next day. Patrons praised restaurant employees for quick action in keeping them calm and helping them evacuate using a back stairway. One patron saw staffers bring towels and help tend the wounded.

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They rushed toward the street with towels to help the wounded, and evacuated customers, including an infant and a toddler, by guiding people to the restaurant's back staircase.

Some patrons of Forum, a Boylston Street restaurant near the twin bomb detonations at Monday's Boston Marathon, are lauding the efforts of staffers they said kept calm after the afternoon devolved into chaos.

The restaurant had been hosting a race watching party that doubled as a fundraiser for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, a nonprofit that the former New England Patriots player started to raise money for cancer patients. Now it's part of a crime scene.

Melinda Kearney, a  schoolteacher from Kansas, was on the second floor with her family after watching her son-in-law finish running the race a bit earlier. She said it was the speaking tone of employees that got her group moving in the right direction.

"They had no panic in their voices," she said April 17. "They were calm and assertive."

Kearney had spent most of the day watching the race through an open upstairs window, an experience she called thrilling. Among those with her were her 2-year-old grandson and 3-month-old granddaughter.

"There was this constant noise of cheering," she said. "And then you just realized there is silence. It's like turning off the ocean."

Kearney remembers first seeing a shot of something that looked orange. People were screaming, glass was on the floor, and no one knew if the second blast would be the last.

"I heard a man behind me say 'I love you,' and I thought, 'He's saying it to his wife.'"

Then a few restaurant workers approached the 20 or so people upstairs, walked them down a hallway and down a stairway that led to the street.

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