GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — At Flo’s Pizzeria off Plainfield Avenue, their focus is on helping customers but also making it through another week.
“We work twice as hard because we have to make sure that we can keep those doors open every single day,” said David Uccello, co-owner.
Uccello says like most businesses, his has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. He estimates a 50 percent decrease in sales in 2020 and profits around $0 in 2020. He says they’ve had to lay off about 50 percent of their staff at their locations, which is 90 employees.
“Receiving those phone calls sometimes from employees saying they can’t pay their rent or they can’t put food on their table for their kids--it is heartbreaking,” said Uccello.
So when someone, or in this case another West Michigan business, is focused on helping Flo’s manage those effects, Uccello says it means a lot.
“Them purchasing those gifts cards doesn’t solve all of our problems,” said Uccello. “What it does do, though, is it gives us the hope, the sense that the community is behind us. That right there is bigger than the financial aspect of this program.”
Flo’s is part of a giveback initiative started last week by Baragar Realty.
Jessie Baragar, co-owner, says for the next 20 weeks, they’ll give away $21 gift cards to restaurants in northeast Grand Rapids.
“[We] kind of wanted to do a play off of the new year,” said Baragar. “Really just trying to keep the feel here around; keep those mom-and-pop shops open and flourishing. They’re the ones supporting all the local little leagues with us and everything, so from one business owner to another, I just think it’s really important to try and find a way to help.”
Baragar says his father came up with the idea.
Only one gift card will be given away each week, but to enter, people must “like” Baragar Realty and the restaurants' social media pages and then comment on Baragar’s post about why they enjoy that week’s place.
Baragar believes the interaction adds to the program by generating buzz and inspiring people to try that week’s restaurant.
“The more we can come together as a community like this and support one another…I think that’s just really a positive thing in all aspects,” said Baragar.
Uccello hopes it just inspires people in West Michigan to focus on how they can support one another.
“If you do have the means, if you are in an industry that has not necessarily been affected or has been affected in a positive way, which there actually are those industries, try to reach out,” said Uccello. “Try to create some kind of initiative for your community to be able to better it.”
To follow Baragar, click here.
Other participating restaurants include Fat Boy Burgers, Graydon’s Crossing, Charlie’s, Choo Choo Grill, Bud & Stanley’s, Fred’s, Robinette’s, Anna’s House, River North Public House, Taco Boy, Lucy’s, Switchback Coffee, Cheers, Kitchen 67, Russ’, The Score, Loco Taco, Bostwick Bakery, and Licari’s Pizza.