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Pizza shop owner backs off claim to defy state orders and reopen dining rooms

Apr 27, 2020

Credit Max Schulte / WXXI News

A local pizza shop owner is getting some backlash on social media after announcing on Twitter over the weekend that he would defy Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order and reopen his dining rooms this week.

Jim Staffieri, owner of the Pizza Stop, said he was going to open his restaurants in Rochester, Pittsford, and Greece for sit-down dining on April 30.

He changed his mind after a visit from the town of Pittsford's code enforcement officer on Sunday.  She told Staffieri his business could be shut down if he went ahead with the plan.

Town Supervisor Bill Smith said the shortest path to reopening the economy is to comply with social distancing and quarantine protocols, but he does sympathize with the business owner.

"Because this is obviously someone who is at wits' end and is trying to prevent his business from going under, and boy, do I get that," Smith said. "But that was tempered by the awareness that this was a violation of the executive order on the business closings."

Some social media followers cheered Staffieri and said they would have bought a pizza from him had he opened early.  Others criticized him for being reckless.

Staffieri said he never intended to cause any harm and had planned to seat customers 12 feet apart.  He told WXXI News that his sales are down more than 50 percent since the start of the coronavirus shutdown.

The Monroe County health department issued the following statement:

Jamie Rine of Victor leaves the Pizza Stop in Pittsford with a pizza to go Monday. Rine said he bought the pizza to "support the people who need to make money." The Pittsford location was open for takeout, but the tables had chairs on top of them and were not open for customers to use.
Credit Max Schulte / WXXI News

"We are at a critical juncture in our fight against COVID-19. While we understand that many residents and businesses are eager to reopen and get back to life as we knew it, the reality is that New York Pause remains in effect until at least May 15. Any business that violates these provisions will be subject to punishment in accordance with the Executive Order. The Monroe County Department of Public Health stresses the need to continue to practice good social distancing, regularly washing your hands and wearing a face covering when in public.”