A High Street staple executes a pandemic pivot and reopens for business.
Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza closed for business mid-March and remained that way until this past Monday, July 27. A lot has changed, and the owners think you’ll like what you find.
Q: What have the past six months been like for you?
Anthony DiGangi (COO of Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza): Things have been pretty challenging. We have five Lotsa locations and all are in college towns. Our business model depends on student and faculty foot traffic. There’s been a lot less traffic on High Street lately. Compound that with pay to park downtown, a global pandemic, and many other temporarily closed businesses on High Street, and you have circumstances that are really hard to deal with in the restaurant business.
Q: How did you decide to deal with that?
AG: Although things got tough, we didn’t sit on our hands and cry about it. We saw this as an opportunity to take some time to sit back and think about our shortfalls and ways we could improve. We threw out our entire menu and spent time putting together new products we could be really proud of.
This is a time where struggling business owners need to get out of their comfort zone. It’s easy to get comfortable and used to doing things a certain way. But this is a new world we’re living in and it demands change. This pandemic has been, for us, a rebirth.
Q: Tell us about your amazing changes.
AG: We brought on a talented executive chef—Chad Wells of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives fame—and retooled the entire menu. We incorporated more fresh ingredients made in-house and adopted a Detroit-style pizza recipe. We’ve elevated the experience above the fast-casual pizza place we used to be, and revamped our point-of-sale system to be pandemic-friendly with three ways to order—in person, by the kiosks in our locations, or by phone. Our operation is now better and safer for our staff and guests. We’ve set the restaurant up for success; now we just need folks to come in and check it out.
Q: Will you stay in the same space?
AG: We are committed to Morgantown and just signed a 5-year extension on our lease. We opened this week thinking we would do carry-out business only. Then we saw people walking up and walking away when they realized we weren’t offering sit-down dining. So we’ve marked the inside for social distancing, separated the tables, and can now seat eight guests outside and 20 inside along with carry-out orders.
Q: Which pizza should we order first?
AG: Definitely the Yard Bird. It features apple pie BBQ sauce, bacon, chicken, cheddar cheese, corn, green apples, and mozzarella cheese, and it’s finished with scallions, smoked gold BBQ sauce, and a light dusting of parmesan. A solid second choice would be the Caprita—a margarita pizza and salad combined—with balsamic glaze, chopped tomatoes, and fresh basil on top. Check out the complete menu on Facebook.