Local Restaurants Offer Delicious Meals - and Help - During Crisis

Leone's Pony Express Pizza

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, LEONE’S PONY EXPRESS PIZZA at 3031 GRAHAM Rd. in Stow, OH shut down operations as of March 22 at 9 p.m. “It is with much regret and concern in making this decision, but in the best interests of our fine employees and such loyal customers, we have decided to shut down our operation…” the restaurant stated in a press release. “We have discussed this situation with our employees and customers and at this time, it is the right thing to do.”

In late March, three employees of Leone’s Pony Express, which has been serving Stow since 1978, voluntarily went to the store and prepped Ma Ma Leone’s Pony Express Pizza and Jo Jo potatoes for delivery of free food to various locations. One of the managers, Toni Faniz

zi, took the initiative to o

rganize the help and prepared about 65 pizzas, along with fellow employees James Schuevront and Brad Scheible. The men then delivered the food to local places such as nearby fire departments, The Health Care Center, Le Hermitage nursing home on Fishcreek Rd., Akron Urban Minority Alcoholism & Drug Use Outreach Facility, Western Reserve Urgent Care, an employee’s church in Hartville, The Arbors in Stow, and The Landings in Stow.

Owner Jim Leone added, “I am so appreciative of the fine employees we have. I have always put safety in front of profits and it’s a good feeling by all to help others in times of crisis.”

Bellacino's Pizza & Grinders 

Family-owned Bellacino's Pizza & Grinders at 3657 Fishcreek Rd. in Stow is doing its part to help "Feed the Frontlines." Owner Dave Segen has teamed up with some fellow Kent State Alumni to raise money to provide meals to hospitals, fire, EMS, police, and others working on the frontline. Once the donations are received, Bellacino's is making individual meals for workers and delivering them twice a week to locations throughout the area. They are working with hospital partners and city administration to get the meals to the right areas. Bellacino's has always been community-focused and felt that this was the least they could do during these tumultuous times.

"There are so many people that are still working and are putting their own life at risk for others. We wanted to show our appreciation and make sure they knew that the community was behind them. Sometimes it's the small gestures that have the most impact," Segen told La Gazzetta. 

You can donate by visiting the Bellacino's website at www.bellacinosofstow.com.

Bellacino's is currently open 

for Carry-Out only:

Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Friday - Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Geraci's Helps Feed The Front-Line Hospital Workers

Geraci's helps feed the front-line hospital workers

Bucky Spoth drops off 24 pizzas at the University Hospitals’ emergency room in University Circle on Tuesday, March 31. UH employees Ashley Pinzone and Danielle Sindelar wait to get the cart loaded. Geraci's Restaurants has been delivering pizzas to area Cleveland area hospital workers thanks to donations from customers, matched by the restaurant. 

David Petkiewicz, cleveland.com

Cleveland's Own Michael Symon Steps Up Again

Michael Symon has lent his name, face and voice to a video promoting the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. The fund, offered through the Columbus-based Ohio Restaurant Association, is taking donations via ohiorestaurantsrelief.org.

"Restaurants in Ohio and throughout the country are really the cornerstones of the communities, but especially in Ohio, where nearly 600,000 people work in restaurants that are all affected by this virus," says Symon, whose restaurants include Lola Bistro, and Mabel's BBQ on East 4th Street in downtown Cleveland to several out of state.

It's far from the first charitable endeavor that Symon has been involved with. He is a catalyst with Five Star Sensation, the biennial food event that raises money for University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center.

The 100-year-old Ohio Restaurants Association represents a diverse slice of the culinary industry, covering fine dining, fast casual, food trucks, ghost kitchens and others.

Marc Bona, Cleveland.com