Small businesses remain community-focused despite damage

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Despite already facing financial setbacks from the pandemic and now repair costs after Saturday night, Uccello’s downtown fed helpers who came to clean up Sunday. 

Uccello’s General Manager Laine Van Dyken for the Monroe Center location told News 8 the restaurant family has experienced just about every emotion since Saturday night. 

Employees wished they could take part in the protest Saturday after witnessing the beginning of it from across the street. 

“The team was excited and proud and they’re happy of what’s happening at Rosa Parks Circle Saturday night when it started, but then things took a turn and we’re frustrated and angry and we got here (Sunday) and again, the pride comes out of all the people to help support us,” Van Dyken said. 

Van Dyken said they’re grateful their damage was minimal compared to other businesses hit downtown.

“Some sort of pizza God was watching over us and just said protect these guys,” she added. “And we’ve got one little hole through a window in the front of the restaurant and then through the side of the Atrium as well, but other than that we ended up really lucky.”

The Atrium is a private event space behind the restaurant’s dine-in area — an added hardship brought on by the pandemic.

“That’s really our bread and butter. We’ve got brides canceling on us and we’re losing thousands of dollars with each event that got canceled,” Van Dyken said. “It’s been one knockdown after the other for us and I’m a little emotional about it so sorry, but the team just really rallied.”

The restaurant handed out 800 slices of pizzas Sunday. It was about giving back to the community that has supported them, rather than worrying about what’s next for the business.

“People need food. Pizza makes people happy. It’s super simple,” the general manager added. 

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