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Business as Unusual: Amici’s Pizza Café

Lifestyle continues to reach out to businesspeople all over South Florida to ask three questions: How did COVID-19 and the shutdown impact your business; how did you position the business for success amid reopening; how will experiencing this unprecedented pandemic change the way you conduct business moving forward? Today, we check in with Craig Valvo, owner of Amici’s Pizza Café. Editor’s note: This interview was conducted prior to Phase 1 reopening for Broward County.

Backstory: At the homestyle Italian spot, Creek resident Valvo serves pizzas, pastas, salads, subs, calzones and paninis.

The impact: I was determined to accomplish two objectives: Continue our mission of “serving our community great food with love” and not lay off any of our 22 employees. We were able to stay open but had to close our dining room and exclusively offer pick-up and delivery. Thankfully, this was already about 50% of our business, so we had to modify what we were already doing as opposed to creating a delivery platform.

In the interim: Prior to dining rooms being shut down, I stocked up on to-go supplies, filling my garage with countless bundles of pizza boxes, bags and other containers. On March 16, we communicated the changes to customers via social media, push notifications on our app and email. This included doubling our delivery capacity, continual sanitizing of all surfaces, utensils and equipment throughout the day, using only disposable paper and plastic products, etc.

The virus has caused us to use masks and create physical barriers for the protection of our staff and customers. Two weeks before masks were required, we anticipated the need for them and were able to purchase about 200 for our team and their families. It came at a steep price, but there were limited options.

The future: Like everyone, I believe we will be more aware of viral transmissions. We look to anticipate consumer demand and react to changes quickly. I imagine that it will take a while for our dining rooms to fill up again. In the meantime, takeout and delivery will be even more important, so we are looking at ways that will allow us to do those things even better.

Giving back: We have had so many incredible opportunities to show love and appreciation for our community. We have donated countless meals to front-line workers. We’ve also [given] at least one family every day a dinner. We have delivered meals to other restaurants, as well, whose employees are so busy serving others that they rarely get the opportunity to be served themselves. One of the highlights for me was working with the team at SOS. Children’s Villages [in Coconut Creek] to create 80 individual pizza kits for their incredible kids. They sent me pictures of the kids making and eating their pizzas and the joy on their faces truly moved me.

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