Batesville restaurant pushes through COVID-19 adjustments with grand opening

Updated: Jul. 21, 2020 at 5:29 AM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Stella’s Brick Oven Pizzeria and Bistro opened its doors Monday in Batesville.

The business also opened up about the challenges and adjustments they made because of COVID-19.

“If we didn’t have such a strong community here that backed each other, that probably would have been a deciding factor. But, we knew we would have great support,” General Manager Jason Jones said.

Jones said this place has a little of bit Italy inside of it, selling Neapolitan pizza and real Italian gelato. With nine months of keeping the faith, they pushed forward, even with coronavirus concerns.

COVID-19 didn’t stop the phones from ringing, lines forming, pizza making, and gelato scooping from happening at Stella’s Brick Oven Pizzeria and Bistro.

“There was some fear. The owners, Laurie and Doug Gottschalk, you know, we had meeting after meeting,” Jones said. “Yes, we can still do this. We aren’t going to let it get us down.”

Opening day went on, even with adjustments made, including rearranging seating to meet social distancing guidelines.

“One of our biggest things was a lot of distribution places shut down. So, it was hard to get supplies,” Jones said. “We had to rearrange our seating for social distancing. Regular seating was around almost 99. So, now we have rearranged so we can seat around 64 total.”

Also, not a part of many opening day budgets, they paid for COVID-19 signage and blocked certain areas.

But, they said they created the restaurant for the community and without the community’s support, this day couldn’t have become a reality.

“It was just really important for the Batesville School District to show up on the first day and make sure they know that they’re supported,” Megan Renihan, communications coordinator for the Batesville School District, said. “We had a board meeting tonight, and we always cater to the board members, so it was a perfect opportunity for us to support a local business and obviously get to try out some awesome brick-oven pizza and gelato.”

Jones said that support pushes them through the unknown.

“It’s very unpredictable, and we don’t know what tomorrow holds,” Jones said. “The owners and myself we just took it on faith. We are going to make this leap and we are going to do this and bring it to the community.”

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