From Jan. 25-31, a dollar of every pepperoni pizza purchase at Fireside Pizza — and 29 other Ohio pizza joints — will go toward supporting restaurant workers who lost their jobs or had their hours cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but people eat a lot of pizza right now,” said John Barker, president of the Ohio Restaurant Association.
And it’s “a no-brainer” for Fireside owner Samuel Dobrozsi, who’s kept his oven burning and rehired most of his staff thanks to support from the Cincinnati community.
"No one is doing well in 2020 or 2021, but pizza places are doing a little less poorly than a lot of other places,” he said.
The Ohio Restaurant Association’s pandemic relief fund has given out more than $450,000 in grants since March 2020, when the onset of the pandemic forced restaurants across the state to close, lay off staff and reconfigure their business plans.
It’s still not enough to help everyone. Ohio’s restaurant industry is experiencing around 19% unemployment, more than three times the unemployment rate in Ohio as a whole.
"Sometimes it's heart breaking,” Barker said. “People will say, ‘If I had a grant, if I could apply and receive a grant, I’d be able to maybe order more groceries next week,’ or ‘I’d be able to pay my rent or my electric bill.’ It's that serious."
A full list of participating pizza restaurants is available on the Ohio Restaurant Association’s Pizza With a Purpose page.
Donors who aren’t hankering for carbs and cheese can still help by donating directly to the Ohio Restaurant Association online.
“Restaurant workers are facing an unprecedented financial crisis in the midst of this pandemic,” Dobrozsi said. “Every little cent we can send their way, every bit counts.”