CINCINNATI — Goodfellas Pizzeria co-owner Alex Coats knew the historic building in Pleasant Ridge would need some love before it was ready to house his restaurant’s third location.
He didn’t count on the COVID-19 pandemic extending what had already been a two-year wait for opening day.
“It’s been very stressful for us,” he said Wednesday. “This has been two years in the making. The buzz is just overwhelming. So many people have just been, like, waiting, chomping at the bit for Goodfellas to open.”
The pandemic made contractors and materials scarce as Coats and his team attempted to turn the long-vacant, 50,000-square-foot space into a restaurant with an upstairs lounge. It also forced them to invest in safety measures for their workers and customers, including mandatory masking and tables situated six feet apart.
But the work is done, and the wait ends Friday. Coats spent Wednesday putting finishing touches on the renovated building, then holding photoshoots for the chain’s locally beloved bourbon and pizza.
Customers who show up during opening weekend will get half-priced cocktails, $1 slices of pizza and $1 cannolis, he said. Everything will be consumed at the socially distanced tables, not at the bar or during casual mingling.
“It’s a grand opening, so people are going to be very anxious to get inside, but even to get a cocktail, you have to be at your seat to enjoy the cocktail,” Coats said. “We are hoping people are a little more considerate of other people trying to come in and sit down.”
Joshua Rothstein, a commercial real estate agent in the Pleasant Ridge area, said the long-awaited restaurant opening will likely be good for the surrounding community.
“It increases property values directly because that, as a domino effect, makes it far more desirable to live in Pleasant Ridge with a thriving business district,” he said. “It helps restaurants and bars, and other retailers, offices look at actually relocating because there is synergy.”
Coats already feels the love from his new neighbors.
“The neighborhood has been very, very supportive,” he said. “I think we’ve hit the jackpot.”