Feim Amzovski used to start making pizza before 9 a.m. to prepare for the lunch rush of students between classes.
This fall, despite all efforts, he’s lucky to sell pizza for 20 customers a day, he said.
“I mean, it’s not like we ain’t trying,” said Amzovski, co-owner of Fame’s Famous Pizza.
Since 1985, brothers Feim and Jim Amzovski have run Fame’s Famous Pizza at The Wall, on 12th Street between Polett Walk and Montgomery Avenue. After 35 years, the decline in business and physical changes in the kitchen are “totally out of the works,” Feim Amzovski said.
The brothers implemented Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol, like wearing masks, bleaching the kitchen and sanitizing everything throughout the day and before they close, co-owner Jim Amzovski said.
They keep hand sanitizer nearby for themselves and the customers, and wear face shields if they feel they need more protection or customers are not wearing masks, Feim Amzovski said.
Fame’s Famous Pizza closed after campus shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. When they reopened on Aug. 17, the summer heat made it difficult to breathe and work in the kitchen with a mask on, Jim Amzovski said.
Now that it’s cooling down, it’s not as bad to wear a mask, he added.
Feim Amzovski made every change he could in his kitchen to ensure everyone’s safety, he said.
“Look, I’m going to be 60 years old, I can’t afford to catch this thing, and plus I’m a diabetic,” Feim Amzovski said. “We’ve got hand sanitizers, I got boxes of it. So we are like, very careful.”
When campus reopened, under 9,000 students returned for in person classes, The Temple News reported.
Classes moved online on Sept. 3 and the city health commissioner Thomas Farley told students to return home. Almost two-thirds of students living in residence halls moved out by Sept. 13, The Temple News reported.
Jim Amzovski estimated sales are down 90 percent from previous years, he said.
The Amzovski’s are offering a limited menu to avoid wasting food at the end of the night, Feim Amzovski said.
Last year, they would make 12 types of pizza and prepare at least 30 for lunchtime. Now they make just three in the morning: cheese, pepperoni and buffalo, and bake more as they need, Jim Amzovski said.
“Everything is minimal,” Feim Amzovski said. “We’re not full, we’re not full staff. We’re not full operational.”
The brothers shortened the stand’s hours to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They used to stay at the stand until about 9 p.m. every night preparing for the morning, Jim Amzovski said.
“Now, we don’t do any preparations, we just come in and whatever we have, just do it, just make it,” Jim Amzovski added. “It’s very limited.”
Kim Estime, a senior advertising major, comes to Fame’s Famous Pizza for a slice, despite not having to come to Main Campus for class. They serve the closest pizza to New York style she found in Philadelphia, she said.
Estime prefers eating at small businesses rather than chain food restaurants, she said.
“You have a lot of fast food chains around and they’re gonna make money regardless,” she added. “I feel like smaller businesses won’t, and they’re here, so why not?”
Looking forward, Feim Amzovski is worried the stand might not survive this semester, and said it will definitely not withstand the spring semester if classes are online again.
“It’s going to take me up to a year and a half of loss of business and that’s a lot of money,” Feim Amzovski said. “Then I’m gonna still wind up have to pay them at the same time if there ain’t no business. It’s impossible to survive.”