Coronavirus News: Legendary pizzeria reopens, struggles to stay open again

GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- At John's Pizzeria of Bleecker Street, it isn't just about the unparalleled coal-fired brick oven pizza.

It is the memories and the nearly century-long history that is the draw.

"We do a minimal amount of takeout but were not really that kind of business. We get a lot of tourists, a lot of neighborhood people," says David Frank.

When Eyewitness News first spoke with John's Pizzeria two months ago before the shutdown, they were grappling with how to survive.

Then, days later, three of their employees lost family members to COVID-19.

Suddenly, the margins do not matter anymore.

"We've got guys who have been here for 25 years, 30 years - so everybody knows everybody - so it's like you're losing a family member yourself, and you're mourning with them," added Frank.

However, after being closed for five weeks, last week the workers felt safer. Now, they're firing up pies once again.

Meanwhile, there has been some discussion from city officials and city council to allow restaurants and bars to expand onto the sidewalk and into public spaces. On Bleecker Street, there's not a lot of space to do that - so the idea is to transform the streets into a dining space.

"Some restaurant and bar owners on the small business call last night. They're making a great case that this could be a difference-maker," Frank said.

A survey by the NYC Hospitality Alliance found that two thirds of restaurants and bars will need at least 70 percent occupancy in order to reopen.

"If we're gonna have mass customers inside, we're gonna have to generate more revenue by having more customers outside," said Andrew Rigie.

Back at John's - business is nowhere where it needs to be.

"This place is meant to serve pizzas to the world, so when the doors are shut, it's a weird thing," added Frank.


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