Created: November 26, 2020 06:35 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —For New Yorker Mario D’Elia, the decision to open a new pizza joint was personal.
"When you've been doing something all your life and you stop doing it, you know—I'm just going to be really honest: I was lost,” he said.
Mario said he came out of retirement during the pandemic to start up his restaurant.
When one pizza place called it quits at a west Downtown location, Mario said the stars aligned with a very understanding landlord, so he opened Poppy’s New York Pizzeria.
Since then, he’s been forced to limit his sales to to-go and delivery.
"No, I do have concerns. Absolutely. If you don't have concerns, you're not a good businessman, to be honest with you,” Mario said.
"One of the hardest decisions I've ever made in my career is having to tell people, look, I'm going to put you on furlough for a couple months and see what happens. You know this is a family business, both my daughters work for me. They're 17 and almost 15, but everybody on my staff is family to me,” he added.
That’s why Mario is betting on himself, and his food, to guarantee his success. But what makes Mario’s pizza so different?
"Me. I mean, you tell me. You liked the pizza. I mean, you tell me. It's like, I believe in— you're getting a real New York pizza made by a real New Yorker,” he said. "My sausages are made in Chicago, my wings are coming from Buffalo, my cheeses are coming from Wisconsin."
As some restaurants across the state close their doors for good, Mario is betting Poppy’s will still be around by the time he’s finally allowed to welcome guests inside.
“You just have to put out good food. You put out good food and you're consistent, people will come. I believe, you build it, they will come,” he said.
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