Northeast Pizza has been closed for about a month, and both it, and the Scale House Brewpub, which has been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, appear to have no plans for reopening its operation in the Village of Lansing.
Luke Fazzary has been running the business since his father, Stephen, passed away on Sept. 6 after battling cancer for about seven months. Fazzary said there were multiple factors for why the pizzeria and pub closed permanently, mainly his father’s passing and the challenges presented by the pandemic.
“My father’s health had been declining since March when … his cancer came back,” Fazzary said. “For him to not be able to be there every day – I don’t live in the state; I couldn’t really take it over and oversee that as well as our Hector location – to keep all that going and making sure that someone is there every day to do all that.”
“With COVID, it brought more challenges than just limited capacity inside. Being able to find proper help – delivery drivers and all that – was very difficult to do and have someone that can deliver pizzas. Our manager was delivering pizzas and delivery times were starting to get up into the hour/hour and a half range, which is just no way to continue operating.”
Stephen Fazzary ran the pizzeria and pub for about 15 years. He also ran the business’s second location, Scale House Brewery, in Hector. Luke said it was always his father’s passion to run his own business.
“He certainly did not like having a boss; he definitely liked being the boss and wanting control of how things turned out – the food quality and making sure that everything stayed consistent and making sure that customers were happy,” he said.
About three or four years ago, Stephen was diagnosed with throat cancer. Radiation treatment put him in remission, but he eventually overcame the disease. However, on March 5, Stephen was diagnosed with cancer, this time it was stage four small cell lung cancer. Despite all the rounds of chemotherapy, Stephen could not take his mind off the business.
“That really was his life. Even to the end,” Luke said. “Even coming to visit him up until his final days [he] was always asking about how the business was doing, how the manager was doing, the employees. He loved looking at the numbers every single day. He really found great joy in seeing the business operate.”
Luke said he and his father made plans for the two of them to run the business in the future.
“It was something that we had planned out for another year or two in advance to try to work together in some way to give him the ability to retire,” he said. “Unfortunately, this cancer came back and everything kind of happened very quickly. I got thrown into it to have to take things over a little bit faster than we had planned.”
Fazzary is still paying minimum utilities on the space and is currently looking for someone to take on the lease, but does not plan on running the pizzeria and pub himself.
“I really don’t have the bandwidth to do that,” he said. “I live in New Jersey. At this point, it’s kind of rehiring a whole new staff, training them. There’s some other issues with equipment and stuff that would need to be replaced. To invest in something with no certainty of what’s going to happen with COVID everything just wouldn’t make financial sense at this point.”
He said he has discussed the property with interested individuals, but is still in the negotiation process. He said there is a chance that it reopens as a pizzeria and pub and that the branding is kept, though it is unlikely that would be the case.
“I think it would be completely different, but that’s some of the stuff that we’re still trying to hammer out – what the terms would be and all that,” he said. “In the end, I’m really more just looking to get out of the lease rather than selling and trying to keep it in business.”