HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Neighborhood Eats heads to Harlem to meet a couple who owns not one but three restaurants, all of which have remained open, and are being good neighbors in many ways.
"We needed a great pizza place where we lived on a walkabout. We saw this place over and over and fell in love," said Jeannie Uyanik, Harlem Pizza Co.
Five years ago, Jeannie and Alper Uyanik opened Harlem Pizza Co., then came Harlem Burger Co., and then Slice Shop at Columbia University.
"Running three restaurants was never fun, was never easy," Jeannie said.
The coronavirus in New York City made almost everything impossible.
"But we have employees and had employees for whom we have so much respect, and we put so much into this, and when this went down we made the decision to not lay off a single employee," Jeannie said.
Not only that, but they also started giving away food to hospitals...tons of it. Their daughter writes beautiful cards for each delivery.
Their generosity gained traction. Neighbors and friends are all donating to the cause. Some money comes from non-profit Meals4Heros.
Their pizzas are a cross between Neapolitan and Roman style. They travel well, but Alper wanted to offer more.
"Instead of taking pizza every time, I've gone completely off-menu. I'm originally Turkish, I make Turkish food, Greek, Italian, Mexican, chicken enchiladas," he said.
It's food to sustain the frontline workers and deliveries that bring joy to these restaurateurs.
"I feel like Santa 10 times a day, every day, I literally do," Jeannie said.
And giving away all that food, in the beginning, may be the thing that helps them stick around till the end.
"Every day is a gift, get through it we'll see. I'm grateful I can look every employee in the eye and say we did the best we possibly could have," Jeannie said.
Conviction and compassion make a recipe for success, and these days, who doesn't crave a pizza? It's easy to order and donate with Harlem Pizza Co.
Neighborhood Eats: Order and donate with Harlem Pizza Co.
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