Customers rallying to keep LaBrasca’s Pizza open after COVID-19 slows business

Customers rallying to keep LaBrasca’s Pizza open after COVID-19 slows business

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Columbia staple could have to close its doors for good if business doesn’t pick up soon.

LaBrasca’s Pizza on Fort Jackson Boulevard has been serving the community since 1966. The small mom and pop shop is known for its food, winning Columbia’s best pizza six years in a row, and its friendly wait staff.

A Columbia staple could have to close its doors due to the pandemic. Caroline Coleburn TV shows us how the community is rallying behind LaBrasca’s Pizza.

Posted by WIS TV on Friday, November 20, 2020

”It makes you feel at home,” said customer Bryanna Martin. “There aren’t many restaurants like that.”

When the pandemic first hit, owner Milly Knuckley Wilson says business wasn’t bothered. “During the shutdown, we were doing great,” she explained. “To-go businesses was great; everything was great.”

She didn’t apply for any federal money, but she regrets it now. When indoor dining resumed, sales took a hit.

“Everything stopped,” said Wilson. “It started to die down, and it got to the point where it was getting scary.”

Wilson and her husband actually took themselves off of the payroll to avoid having to lay off their full-time employees. She took to Facebook Tuesday afternoon writing this: “Well folks, looks like COVID is going to win this battle. Not looking good for us at LaBrasca’s. Not sure how much longer we can hold our heads above the water. Our cost have almost tripled and sales have been cut in half. Not a good time for small mom and pop businesses for sure!”

While restaurants can resume 100% capacity, LaBrasca’s is only seating 50% in its front dining room because Wilson says most customers still aren’t comfortable in a packed facility.

She didn’t want to close and have people ask her why she didn’t say business was struggling. Her Facebook post has gathered more than 400 shares, and hundreds of customers from all over South Carolina have flooded the shop.

“We went from doing nothing to having a line around the building,” said Wilson. “I was literally in tears the other day because you forget that people love you, and they always say it’s unconditional, but it’s nice to know. It’s nice to see.”

This isn’t the first time the community has rallied behind LaBrasca’s. In fact, after the 2015 flood, customers started a GoFundMe page to help rebuild the restaurant.

While she’s thankful for this rush of business, Wilson is still worried about what the next few months will hold.

“Things go bad, and you’ve got the one rush of helping out, and then people go oh, they’re fine,” she explained. “I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I want it to continue.”

Wilson doesn’t want donations; she wants your continued business. She’s asking everyone to shop small to keep community staples, like LaBrasca’s, running.

“We don’t want to become part of the history of the past,” said Wilson. “We want to continue to be the future.”

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