LAKELAND, Fla. — A pizzeria in Lakeland, feeling the economic hit of the coronavirus pandemic, was able to keep its doors open after the community stepped up to save the business. Now, the owner is giving back.
Sal’s Pizza 2 is preparing nearly 400 servings of baked ziti to deliver to Lakeland Regional Health on Monday for the workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus battle.
“It’s my job, as someone in the community, to give back to the people that are fighting the coronavirus,” said Phillip Imperi, the owner of Sal’s Pizza 2.
And thanks to a viral Facebook post, he’s able to do that.
Just two weeks ago, Phil was worried he’d have to close up shop. His sales had dropped from around $10,000 a week to $6,000.
“I was feeling down and out about it because the week that there was nobody here, I was like wow, how do I tell my crew they’re fired or laid off,” said Imperi.
So, he took to Facebook.
“I said, 'man, where are my customers?' I’m driving by these chain restaurants and there’s a line down the street,” said Imperi.
His post gathered more than 2,000 shares, causing all three of his phone lines to be constantly busy with customers requesting orders.
“I had to close early because I ran out of dough,” said Imperi.
His sales that week at Sal’s Pizza 2 nearly tripled.
“After my viral Facebook post, my sales in eight days went up to $25,000,” said Imperi.
Now he feels it’s his duty to help out the community that helped him. Imperi is preparing more than 400 meals for medical staff at Lakeland Regional Health.
“My first wife that I lost to cancer, that was treated at Lakeland Regional, one of the reasons I picked that hospital to donate the food too, they treated her like gold,” said Imperi.
A way to say thank you to the community for their help now, and to the medical staff, that helped him and his wife back then.
“It was our dream, so when I opened this place, it took a lot of stress and emotion because I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted her to be proud, so I hope I’m doing a good thing,” said Imperi.
Sal’s Pizza 2 isn’t just helping healthcare workers. They’re also feeding all first responders for free when they stop by.