A Monmouth County pizza restaurant owner was able to keep his business open during the pandemic. But he is now fighting to stay in business.
Many New Jersey businesses were forced to change their business plans when the COVID-19 stay-at-home order was implemented. Restaurants have been forced to switch from catering services to offering take-out and alfresco dining.
“We put every dollar we had in that outdoor field. It was literally something that was just a last hope, ”explains Vinny Ferrara, owner of Delvetto’s Pizzeria & Pub.
Ferrara’s restaurant opened just before the pandemic hit, crippling New Jersey businesses.
“We were able to make take out, but it’s not enough to pay the bills. We were literally fighting, trying to pay the bills, doing absolutely nothing, ”Ferrara says.
Ferrara says the restaurant got what appeared to be a lifeline in June when dining and outdoor entertainment permits were approved by the Township of Neptune and the state until November 2022. Delvetto again changed, adding outdoor performance.
“I’ve probably contacted all of these groups – probably over 100 different groups, local groups. ‘Hey, do you want to play in my parking lot?’ Ferrara says.
The “Tiki Lot” was born. But Ferrara says that effective June 6, the Township of Neptune is canceling all outdoor entertainment. Al fresco dining permits will be canceled by Labor Day. The permits were all issued temporarily during the pandemic to help keep businesses afloat.
“It’s the only thing that keeps us alive and together,” Ferrara says. “We fight and we fight every day just to pay the bills.”
Some customers say they prefer to eat out, especially since COVID-19 still remains a threat in the state.
“I won’t be comfortable being inside at this point,” says Sarah White of Red Bank. “It seems like a step back really.”
Other patrons say the outdoor concerts brought the community together.
“A lot of our neighbors in the area would meet here and the kids would eat pizza, they had live shows,” says Jill Tramontano of Neptune. ” I am very disappointed. I think it was a bad decision on Neptune’s Share. “
Ferrara says if the permits are canceled he may have to lay off some employees as they expect smaller crowds for dinner.
News 12 New Jersey contacted the municipality and the company administrator for comment, but received no response.