A New York pizzeria just earned itself a (temporary) rent-free stay at its place of business after the landlord learned they were donating hundreds of pizzas to hospitals around the city to help medical workers combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All of the pizza getting made at Sauce Pizzeria — as many as 400 per day — are going straight to hospitals to feed health care workers pulling 14- or even 18-hour shifts as they remain on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight,” reports NBC New York. “Many of those nurses, doctors, and other medical staffers are so swamped helping patients every single day, many don’t have a moment to spare to grab something to eat.”
Adam Elzer, the owner of Sauce Pizzeria, said they wanted to help the many doctors and nurses unable to take breaks to eat during their grueling shifts. He got the idea after a nurse friend told him the situation had become so chaotic that she could not even stop to eat lunch.
“They’re running around from room to room the hospitals are packed, and if we’re not sending food, a lot of them are not eating,” said Elzer. “Basically anywhere that we get a note from a nurse or a doctor telling us that they’re in need, we figure out a way to get them on the schedule and then we deliver to that hospital.”
When Elzer’s landlord, Ben Kraus of A&E Real Estate Management, learned of Sauce Pizzeria’s good deed, he chose to freeze rent payments for the next three months in the effort to keep them donating pizzas. Beyond that, A&E also donated $20,000 to help the pizzeria step up production.
“I saw what Adam was doing on social media honestly and when we noticed what he was doing it was very clear that we needed to help him,” said Kraus. “We set up Adam with logistics to be able to deliver en mass to hospitals all over New York City.”
Both Elzer and Krause hoped that they could set an example for how businesses and landlords could be working together during this difficult time.
“It made it a lot easier for us to keep doing what we’re doing and to feel really good about that,” Elzer said. “Pizza makes people happy. That’s what this started from, that we wanted to give them some reason to smile when it’s kinda hard to smile with what they’re currently doing.”
The restaurant industry has taken a beating during the economic shutdown caused by the pandemic. Just last week, the National Restaurant Association predicted that 11% of restaurants could be closing permanently. Hudson Riehle, the Association’s senior vice president of research, said the data shows the industry is in “uncharted territory.”
“Association research found that 54% of operators made the switch to all off-premises services; 44% have had to temporarily close down. This is uncharted territory,” said Riehle. “The industry has never experienced anything like this before.”
Even chain restaurants have been impacted by the pandemic. Last week, Cheesecake Factory Chairman and CEO David Overton told all landlords that the business would not be able to meet rent for any of its 300 restaurant locations.