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A Third Surge: An Update From The Other Side Of The Pizzaverse

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November 25th, 2020

There’s no tl;dr for 2020. Sure, we could summarize what’s happened, or lay out just the bare facts, but we’d lose the complexity long-windedness provides. We’d lose the feelings behind the actions. And that complexity is a better representation of life right now than a pithy photo caption or a few simple sentences. 
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Eight months ago, our local government held a press conference, announcing emergency measures which confirmed a reality that had been looming for weeks: COVID-19 had arrived in the USA. 

Do you remember what those first few weeks of the emergency order were like? The streets were silent—no cars in sight. The trains were empty. And everywhere there was fear, bred from uncertainty, and feeding on how little we knew.

Two weeks earlier, the Dimo’s team had come together to discuss this possibility. Then suddenly, the possibility was reality.

Do you remember navigating working from home? Were you furloughed or laid off as your industry disappeared overnight? Do you remember “Some Good News”? 

And here we are again. Brought to our knees by COVID-19. Unable to muster a response to match. Unable even to unite to fight. Every governor disagrees, every mayor has a different plan, and the federal government has been arguing with itself for months. 

How to proceed? 

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We asked ourselves: who are we? A small business, a restaurant, a pizza shop—all of those things and more. A group of people, trying to navigate this world, doing everything we can to keep our heads above water and help whoever we can while doing it.

For us, there is one path, one driving value that keeps our fire lit: unity.

We are a group of 50 humans who have been bound together, through pizza and service, to fight the good fight. Not to throw in the towel. To be there for you. To live the creed of Chicago, that apt Carl Sandburg line, the ideal of “the city of big shoulders.”

But to do that in normal times is one thing, and to show up and do it—and still stay safe—during a global pandemic is another.

Showing up and staying safe meant making tough calls. We asked the team to choose safety over familiarity, hangouts, sometimes family. We made new protocols and contingency plans. One of those protocols was Code Red.

We discussed and developed Code Red during the summer, as the reality of contact with COVID-19 turned from IF to WHEN.

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And of course, the when happened. On Saturday, October 31 (yep, Halloween—ouch), we issued a Code Red at our Wrigleyville location.

For four days, we operated with just half our team. Team members from our Wicker Park location rallied and traveled to a completely different store to work until at least part of the original team could safely return. It cost us money. We lost an enormous sales day—which hurt especially hard after months of riding on fumes. But it also helped us continue knowing everyone was safe. And you know what? No one panicked, everyone knew the drill, the entire team was tested and we were back to full strength in about a week. 

Was that hard? Yes, it sure was. But the team was safe and because of that, it was worth it. Because COVID-19 is everywhere—really everywhere—we needed to do it.

Will it be harder for us to rally everyone again if we hit another code red? Yeah...it sure will be. Just ask Longman & Eagle. Or Hopleaf.

From the moment indoor restaurant dining was closed, working together has enabled us to keep moving forward. Staying united around survival kept us all safe. Everyone played their part and believed in everyone else. 

That unity has helped us weather the storm so far. Despite a staggering 70% reduction in our pre-pandemic sales, we have stuck together. We’ve maintained our momentum. Raised our wages. Kept our benefits. Expanded to a third location. We’ve donated and sold thousands of face shields, we’re selling plants, we make cocktails in bottles and pizza kits. We’re hosting nonprofits, who also fight that good fight, on our menu. 

Are we thriving? Absolutely not. We are at the mercy of forces beyond our control. But we are putting up a fight. 

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But we can’t continue to weather the storm without sticking together. We can’t—in fact, no business can—put up a fight if the broader society doesn’t all work together as well. And that’s a lesson we’ve seen taught over and over this year, as businesses are forced to choose between their existence and the safety of their staff and customers. 

We are here for you, Chicago. Enthusiastically. We want to make your life a little bit better on rough days when you can’t imagine cooking again. Or give you and your roommates a reason to have a meal together while you’re all trapped in the same apartment.

But we have to keep staying safe. For the sake of our staff, who risk their lives everyday coming to work. Because they have to, in order to survive. We can’t make pizza from our home offices. And every little piece of safety we add to the pile—a mask here, washed hands there, some distance all around—helps. So throw some on, won’t you? 

Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe. And eat pizza!

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WRIGLEYVILLE

Monday to Thursday 4pm to Late
Friday to Sunday 11am to Late

WICKER PARK

Everyday 11am to Late

Delivery

MON TO THURS 4PM - 12AM
FRI 11AM - 2AM
SAT 11AM - 3AM
SUN 11AM - 12AM


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