The fallout from the pandemic has shuttered for good a downtown Detroit landmark restaurant that’s been in business for more than three decades.
PizzaPapalis, a beloved pizzeria chain known for its deep-dish pies, will not reopen its Greektown location and its contents will be sold in an online auction starting Monday, said Joe Sheena, who co-owns the chain with his brother Mark.
The restaurant has been a fixture on Monroe Street in Detroit’s Greektown since 1986. All five of PizzaPapalis’ other metro Detroit locations, as well as a location in Toledo, Ohio, will remain open.
Closed for more than a year because of the pandemic, Sheena said they had been in negotiations to sell the Greektown location to an unnamed party that was to keep it a PizzaPapalis but that the deal fell apart.
“We continued to keep the lights on but at this point, it’s an untenable situation for us,” Sheena said. “We’ve decided to focus our attention on our five other locations, which are busy.”
Sheena also cited the lack of lunchtime traffic downtown and that the roughly 10,000-square-foot Greektown location, with seating capacity for 400, was too big to operate in the current dining climate.
PizzaPapalis’ other locations are not as big , he said, and more manageable.
“It was very hard to operate during the pandemic,” Sheena said. “Events are a third or 25% of what they used to be. We went as long as we possibly could.”
Sheena confirmed that an auction is taking place of the restaurant’s contents,
including items such as pizza prep tables, work tables, ovens, fryers, ice machines, shelving, small wares and more.
In January, an estate sale was held at the Greektown location that included wall decor featuring the “313” area code, bar-height tables, bar stools and chairs and miscellaneous items. Sheena, at that time, said that the items for sale were things stored there for more than 30 years.
“We went as long as we possibly could,” Sheena said. “We couldn’t keep the lights on and keep paying rent for as long as we are. We are still optimistic that when this crazy thing settles down we may reappear, but not in a big space like this.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the hospitality and restaurant industries have been hit hard with restrictions and closures.
A recent survey of 4,000 restaurants nationwide conducted Jan. 16-18 by the National Restaurant Association pegged the somber realities facing restaurant owners on the increase in COVID cases due to the omicron variant.
More than 80% of Michigan restaurants experienced a drop in demand for indoor dining and three-quarters of restaurants said business conditions are worse than three months ago.
The online auction, according to a listing on prabid.com, is taking place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and ends at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Pickup of items is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.
Contact Detroit Free Press food writer Susan Selasky and send food and restaurant news to: email@example.com. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
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