Customers keep New Jersey pizzeria in business while feeding first responders

Catherine Garcia

Bryan Morin has always taken care of his employees, and he wasn't going to let the coronavirus pandemic get in his way.

Morin and his brother, Michael, own Federico's Pizza in Belmar, New Jersey. The pizzeria was once owned by their father, and the employees are like family — Federico's head chef has been there for more than two decades. Bryan told The Associated Press that he takes his role as "provider" for his employees seriously, and when business slowed down a few weeks ago because of the pandemic, he took out a $50,000 line of credit in order to pay them for the next two months, figuring he would "make it up somewhere down the line."

When customers heard what Morin did to keep his employees afloat, they showed their support by giving big tips and making donations. A few people then had the idea to pay for pizzas and have them delivered to first responders at hospitals and police and fire stations across the city; over just two days last week, customers spent $4,000 on pizzas for first responders, with 30 delivered to the Jersey Shore Medical Center. Federico's employee Kirsten Phillips told AP her boss' kindness was "so unexpected," but added that "maybe it shouldn't have been, because he always took care of us. This is really the best job I've ever had."

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