Resilient food vendors persevere in COVID-19 pandemic

Food trucks and restaurants on Main Campus reopen their doors despite pandemic difficulties.

John Laro, a sophomore accounting major, hands out a customer's order at Eddie's Pizza on Oct. 4. | AMBER RITSON / THE TEMPLE NEWS

As Alex Tolosa set up for Tuesday karaoke night at Maxi’s Pizza, Subs & Bar, Temple University students lined up outside to grab a beer and slice of pizza in anticipation of a late night out.

“The students missed those nights where you mingle and talk to other people, and play beer pong, sing karaoke or come and enjoy yourself,” said Tolosa, manager of Maxi’s Pizza, Subs & Bar. “Having that back was a big push for us.”

After struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic with few customers or shutting down completely because of restrictions like social distancing, mask mandates and being forced to close early by the City of Philadelphia, restaurants and food vendors on campus are glad restrictions have been loosened and that a majority of students have returned to campus for in-person classes. 

After moving classes online in March 2020 and remaining virtual during the 2020-21 school year, Temple decided to hold classes primarily in-person this semester, bringing most students back to Main Campus.

Maxis shortened their hours and ran on limited capacity from Summer 2020 to January 2021 because of guidelines from the City of Philadelphia, Tolosa said.

Since Aug. 23, Maxis has been operating at 100 percent capacity.

Alex Tolosa, the manager of Maxi’s Pizza, Subs and Bar, sits at a table in the bar inside Maxi’s on Oct. 4. | AMBER RITSON / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Both Eddie’s Pizza at The Wall, on 12th Street between Polett Walk and Montgomery Avenue, and The Foot Long Truck on 12th Street near Norris opened this fall for the first time since shutting down in March 2020.

Eddie’s reopened on Aug. 23 with new regulations due to the pandemic to make business run smoother, said John Laro, a sophomore accounting major and son of the owner Renato Laro.

Eddie’s has switched to contactless transactions to help with the higher volume of customers now that more students have returned to campus, John Laro said.

John Laro, who runs the cash register and helps prepare orders, has seen an increase in orders, but not nearly the amount Eddie’s was getting prior to the pandemic, he said. 

In 2019, Eddie’s was serving 200 to 400 customers a day. Since reopening this semester, they typically serve between 150 to 300 customers each day, John Laro said.

Laro still feels optimistic about more customers coming each day and believes business is improving, he said.

“I appreciate everybody who comes through, you know, it’s great,” John Laro said. “I’ve actually met so many people, some people are close friends today, just by coming here and just sparking conversation with me.” 

For John Amzovski, managing his aunt Sylvia Ndreu’s food truck, The Foot Long Truck, this semester, has allowed his family to continue serving students and keep the food truck open. 

Ndreu considered selling or shutting down the food truck because it wasn’t open or generating any revenue after Temple shut down, but after spending time with family between March 2020 and July 2021, she made the decision to make Amzovski the manager. 

Amzovski was appointed manager because the family wanted to keep the food truck in the family and he has the experience to run a food truck after working for more than 30 years in the food industry, he said. 

The Foot Long Truck re-opened on Aug. 23 and increased their prices because they have spent more money on products, Amzovski said.

“I mean, we’re feeling the impact with prices,” Amzovski said. “We’re having a hard time we’re literally working seven days a week just shopping sometimes on the weekends just to find products we need.” 

Although The Foot Long Truck has had to raise prices, Amzovski is optimistic about the future and looks forward to continuing to serve the Temple community .

“I have a 13-year-old kid who spent all year virtual last year,” Amzovski said. “I feel like [students] need to interact and kind of just be on campus and, like I said, the food trucks are here as part of the college experience to just come down, eat, try different foods. So yeah I’m pretty optimistic.”

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