As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout Central Virginia, a Charlottesville business owner is making sure frontline workers get fed.
Scott Quagliata, owner of Marco’s Pizza on Pantops, has been feeling the negative economic effects of the coronavirus just like many other business owners. The first couple of weeks of social distancing hurt the business and, for a bit, Quagliata said he wasn’t sure Marco’s would survive.
“When the stay-at-home order came down our sales went through the floor and I was pretty sure we were two weeks from shutting down,” he said. “However, about two weeks later we recovered a little and were looking at a survivable number of sales, and I knew I wanted to do something to help.”
For the past few weeks, Quagliata has been providing a free day of meals to Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and University of Virginia Medical Center staff members as part of a program he calls Feeding Our Frontline Heroes.
Averaging close to 50 pizzas a week between the two hospitals, Quagliata said the program is a way for Marco’s to show its appreciation for frontline workers who are putting their lives on the line.
The pandemic also affected Quagliata personally, as his cousin contracted COVID-19. Though the cousin has since recovered, Quagliata said the ordeal brought appreciation for frontline workers even closer to home.
“It’s scary to know the heavy physical toll the virus takes on people, and I’m glad my cousin, who lives in New York City, was able to get the help he needed,” he said.
In the last week, Quagliata said he had also reached out to managers at the three grocery stores located in the Pantops area to ask about donating pizzas to their workers, as well.
“They’re really an essential business — without them, we don’t have food,” he said. “So I’ve spoken with the three around here and offered to provide meals, and they’ve been very receptive to that.”
Quagliata said he also plans to expand the program to assist the Charlottesville public schools food program.
Taking a grassroots approach, Quagliata said leaders from the Charlottesville Veterans of Foreign Wars group also have sought to provide financial support. Even Marco’s customers are able to assist by donating to the program when ordering food through the store’s delivery app.
Quagliata said he hopes these new donations will allow him to give away more pizza in the coming weeks.