BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — "We're Italian. When things get weird, we like to feed everybody."
Nick Pitillo is the owner of both Osteria 166 in Buffalo and Villaggio in Ellicottville. Since 2013, he and his staff have been serving up Italian dishes, until the COVID-19 outbreak closed his dining room doors.
"Last Sunday and Monday I ended up having to lay-off about 60 people," Pitillo said. "I spent the next four days trying to rack my brain trying to put some people back to work."
That's where an idea called "Stock the Freezer" was born. It's a website that allows customers to buy or donate their favorite Italian meals.
"We are definitely making these meals with love," Pitillo said.
Pitillo had no idea how popular "Stock the Freezer" would become but he knows to never underestimate the people of Western New York. In a matter of 48 hours, they've sold 2,000 meals and counting.
"Every time my e-mail pops, it's another order," he said. "It hasn't stopped. It's pretty crazy."
The high demand has allowed Pitillo to bring back some of his staff as they work several hours a day to prepare and deliver meals.
"We've got five people coming in so far and we'll probably be up to seven or eight on Tuesday," he said. "They want to contribute and we want to in the safest way possible."
Because it's all about giving back and making sure Western New Yorkers can get a good meal. They're "Buffalo Strong" but wouldn't be here without the generosity of others.
"My favorite are the people that are just signing on and buying one meal because they probably can't afford it but want to help," said Pitillo. "I've tried to send an e-mail to some of those folks because by the end of this week, someone's gonna be eating a meal because of you and we appreciate that."
Orders for both Buffalo and Ellicottville area residents can be placed stockthefreezer.com for either yourself or for someone else. Some meals are available either vegetarian or gluten-free and are available for free delivery (with a $50 minimum order) or for curb-side pickup in the near future. Most meals can be bought for $8.