NORTHRIDGE : Pizzeria Perseveres Post-Quake
The pizza-making business has been a little shaky since the Jan. 17 quake, Uno pizzeria manager Harry Batt said.
Located just around the corner from the now-demolished Bullock’s department store at Northridge Fashion Center, Batt’s restaurant is an island in a sea of quake rebuilding. It’s the only store connected to the mall that is open, but it no longer has an adjacent mall to lure customers. But business has been increasing steadily, Batt said.
The pizzeria opened less than two months before the earthquake hit. Having reopened Feb. 1--just two weeks after the 6.8 temblor destroyed the rest of the shopping center--the chain restaurant that features Chicago-style pizza has withstood not only the quake but the inconvenience of constant construction going on around it.
“It’s been tough,” Batt said. “The two Uno stores in San Diego have been growing by 20% and we’re growing just a little.”
To lure customers, Batt has sent gift certificates to regular patrons, set up billboards on surrounding streets and hired more waiters.
Chomping on lemon-lime cilantro chicken pizza, Melanie and Glenn Brooker of Northridge said they have been coming to Uno regularly since the quake. “We wanted to give them our business. There’s nothing left here,” Melanie Brooker said.
“And the food is really good,” added her hungry husband, serving himself a slice.
Tracy Doroha of Los Angeles and her date, David Inglese of Northridge, stopped at the pizza place Monday, the first time that they had been back since the quake. Doroha said that before the quake, she would visit Inglese in the San Fernando Valley, but until recently, Inglese had been coming to see her in Los Angeles.
“A lot of people won’t come in here because they’re afraid,” said Chris Colburn, an Uno bartender and Cal State Northridge student whose apartment was wrecked in the quake. Colburn arrived at work the morning of the quake to find that he at least had a job to return to.
Another Uno employee, manager Adam Slotnick, died when his apartment in the Northridge Meadows building collapsed.
Colburn said construction and security workers at the mall make up a large portion of Uno’s bar clientele. “But on Fridays, we get a real mixed crowd,” he said.