BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Pizza seems like one of those businesses that could survive a takeout only operation. But two of Western New York’s most beloved joints shut down due to concerns over the pandemic.
“We do a lot of takeout, and we could’ve stayed open, but we figured for safety reasons we would just close down,” said Jeff Jacobbi, owner of JJ’s Casa Di Pizza.
Two weeks ago, he closed down his restaurant. Then he realized reopening had become nearly as important as shutting the restaurant’s doors in the first place.
“We decided to reopen because employees just weren’t getting unemployment,” he said. “They weren’t getting any pay coming in, so we decided to reopen so they could start getting a paycheck again.”
Over on Bailey Avenue in Buffalo, Bocce Club Pizza was in a similar place — having been shut down twice as long at this point.
“The pandemic hit, I got a little nervous about what was going on. There were a lot of questions. I felt it was best for my employees and all that that we should just shut down, people were scared we didn’t know what we were dealing with,” said owner Jim Pacciotti.
Both restaurants opened operations once again, April 27 — but with a lot of changes in place.
Bocce Club is only allowing a drive-thru style pick up, with payments done over the phone, and no one allowed in the building.
Casa Di Pizza has curbside pickup but has also expanded its delivery to all parts of Western New York.
“We’ve been as far as Akron, we’ve been to Lackawanna, Orchard Park… Hamburg. We’ve been all over.”
The restaurant also extended its hours and is now looking to hire people to make deliveries and work the counter.
Pacciotti said he’s allowing his employees to come back, only if they’re comfortable.
“If you feel uncomfortable, you don’t have to come to work; they’re not going to lose their job over it.”
While safety during the pandemic has caused a lot of new changes, some business owners say this could become the new normal — and that’s not a bad thing.
“It’s surprising how effective it is taking the credit cards, and just have people prepaid and come in. You don’t have to deal with their cash. I’m installing big glass barriers up, so (there is) less contact when we do let people back in the building. I got some ideas even from the supermarkets for social distancing. They were putting stickers on the floor and everything like that. We don’t know how long we’re going to be doing this, so I think it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Pacciotti.