‘Pizza with a purpose’ raising money for unemployed Ohio restaurant workers

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LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WJW) – Local pizzerias are raising money for restaurant industry workers who are out of work amid the pandemic.

Pizza has remained in high demand at Master Pizza in Lakewood as others in the restaurant industry were harder hit by the pandemic.

“While a lot of our friends were hurting, we were still able to take phone calls, and it’s a great opportunity to help our friends and brethren in the restaurant industry who have really, really suffered,” Master Pizza Owner and CEO Michael LaMarca said.

LaMarca’s 12 Northeast Ohio Master Pizza locations are joining dozens of other pizzerias in the region for the “Pizza with a Purpose” fundraiser.

Participating pizzerias will donate $1 from every pepperoni pizza sold between Monday, Jan. 25 and Sunday, Jan. 31 to help unemployed restaurant workers.

“We hope it gives them the funds to pay their rent, to buy food, to survive,” LaMarca said.

“Pizza with a Purpose” will benefit the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which has already raised more than $450,000 for restaurant workers in need, who can apply for a grant.

“Some of these applications are heartbreaking,” Ohio Restaurant Association President and CEO John Barker said. “They say, ‘If I had the money I’d have to decide between going to the grocery store and paying my electric bill, but it certainly would help.’”

Barker said the industry’s struggles have continued into 2021 amid ongoing restrictions and canceled events. Facing an unknown future, he said an ORA poll conducted in recent days found about 75% of Ohio restaurateurs say they may be forced to close this year.

“This is the toughest time of the year, this is the lowest volume time of the year for restaurants, particularly for sit down restaurants,” Barker said.

Now, pizza lovers can help make a difference as pizzerias share a slice of the pie with those who are struggling.

“It’s just something we can do to give back,” LaMarca said.

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