Papa Nick’s Pizza and Pasta is a family business that owner Phillip Pamphilis said has served the community for more than 40 years.
“Well, my parents were in the ice cream business in the 60s. It was a big business but it was very seasonal, so they wanted something year-round,” he said. “So, we did a little bit of research, I should say they did, I was just a little guy and they realized Italian restaurants, pizza shops are great year-round in the Cleveland market, with the Great Lakes' weather and all. So, they took the plunge, sold the busy ice cream shop. Again it was only seasonal and they got into a pizza shop.”
Pamphilis said it’s not hard to miss the change in our country’s economy.
“Traditionally, over the years, we’d have moments where something would be out of stock, prices would increase due to seasonal reasons but now it’s a wide spectrum. It’s everything,” he said. “It’s the meats, it’s the cheeses, it’s the packaging. So, the last year and a half, everybody in this business has been scrambling to find packaging. We’re all looking for any raw materials that we can make into food and sell. So, in the meantime, this would explain why a lot of restaurants have gotten away with their full menus. We really had to pair things down because there’s just no way we can make the things we normally make. So, we’ve all made our adjustments.”
The Consumer Price Index reports food away from home rose 5.8% over the last year. This resulted in the largest 12-month increase since the period ending January 1982.
Pamphilis like other restaurant owners throughout the country has increased prices to adjust to this change.
“The first year of the pandemic, I didn’t even raise my prices," he said. "I was trying to keep my customer base happy. But beginning this year, I had to bump them a little bit, and then in July, there was a tremendous increase and I had to go up again. I mean, pizzas I had to raise them a dollar. I usually — it was 20 or 50 cents. I mean, you got to do it in big trouble.”
While a hard decision, he said his customers are understanding.
“I had a few people who were really upset, but most of the people do understand and they were sympathetic towards us and they actually kind of like places like us to survive," he said.
The New York Times reports inflation has caused several pizza shops there to discontinue selling $1 pizza slices.
Pamphilis said the same is true in Ohio, for several shops.
“We did. We kind of got away from that. The foot traffic went away, so we did other things to captivate our regulars and try to catch some people. We offer a lot of current specials versus having slices sitting all day, having to throw away,” he said. “So again, that’s the survivability mode. We’re all in survival mode, all of us. Mom and pops and chains, we’re all doing what we can.”
He said although the future is unknown, he said he is prepared.
“If we want to stay in business, we can’t do our nickel and dime increases that we do annually. We have to do really big changes or we’re in really big trouble. So, if you want to maintain the standards, have good food, you’ve got to charge,” he said.
He said he also encourages other restaurant owners to remain hopeful.
“Stay positive. This is going to change. Don’t give up ... I talked to myself and God more than I ever have and we’re still here. So, hang in there.”
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday and people can order online or call.