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Loyal customers. Hardworking staff members. Sheer luck.

That's how Francesca Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta owner Sal Reina says his pizzeria was able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, and then open a third Bergen County location.

With stores in Glen Rock and Elmwood Park, the new Fair Lawn location on Broadway was set to open in March -- just one week before COVID-19 swept the state.

As neighboring businesses fell one-by-one, Reina couldn't help but wonder if it would happen to his, too.

"Once I heard schools were closing," said Reina, "I knew something drastic was going to happen."

School lunch programs and local functions made up a large portion of sales for both of Reina's stores. The Elmwood Park store, for example, landed an account providing 110 pies every Wednesday for local students,Reina said. When schools closed, that was gone.

"I didn’t know if restaurants or eateries were also going to be forced to close," he said. "Even after I found out we were allowed to stay open being a pizza shop I was still super nervous about my team."

Reina -- who runs the stores alongside his three business partners Jeff Lucca, Adam Vuksanic and his brother, Gino Reina -- said he felt responsible for everyone involved.

"I feel like it’s my job to do a good job always out of respect for my team," he said. "I always feel that weight."

There were so many questions without answers. Would Reina have to lay anyone off? Downsize? Or worse, close the stores?

Those two days he spent worrying were the longest of his life, Reina said. He knew his business could shutter -- he saw it happen to dozens of businesses on his block. He watched helplessly as his friends were stripped of their livelihoods.

Thankfully, his customer base and community were "amazingly supportive," Reina said. Without them, things right now could be different.

"I was very nervous every morning about how the day was going to go from a sales standpoint," Reina said. "But after that first week, I saw things were pretty steady for the most part and felt a little bit of relief as the days and weeks went on."

Last Wednesday, Reina opened Francesca's third location on Broadway, in Fair Lawn. Sure, it happened later than expected, but Reina knows he's lucky.

"In the bigger picture, the virus affected so many more important and bigger things than the pizzeria," he said. "Lives were lost, people got ill and businesses -- and so much more -- suffered. So I’m not complaining."


  • Fair Lawn, 25-07 Broadway, 201-733-8293
  • Elmwood Park, 246 Market St., 201-791-4578
  • Glen Rock, 234 Rock Road, 201-251-1199

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Miguel Andujar has no problem being Yankees utility guy

You would think staring down Mike Trout from the pitching mound would be the answer. Or attempting to figure out what well-above-average pitch Gerrit Cole was going to throw to make you look ill.

Yet, many players will tell you the most difficult thing to accomplish at baseball’s highest level is changing positions once in the big leagues.

Which, of course, Miguel Andujar continues to try and do.

With Gio Urshela’s breakout 2019, which added a very solid bat to Gold Glove defense at third base while Andujar recovered from right shoulder surgery that limited him to a dozen games, the Yankees are trying to find additional positions for the talented 25-year-old hitter.

The experiment started in February and March — when Andujar played third, first base and the outfield — and has continued in spring training 2.0.

Miguel Andujar at first baseN.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“To be honest, I feel much more comfortable comparing going back to the time in Tampa spring training,’’ Andujar said when asked Wednesday the difference between now and when he started working at positions other than at third. “I think [the shutdown] has allowed me to have more practice to get more comfortable with the position out there, doing a lot of drills and listening to the coaches.’’

Andujar finished second to the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani in the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year race thanks to a .297 average with 27 homers and 92 RBIs, but his defense at third needed work not only to cut down on the 15 errors but also to get to more balls.

Had he not been hurt early last season, it’s likely the right-handed bat would have stayed productive, but when Andujar went down Urshela got a chance and delivered.

Though Urshela has to prove that last year’s career-best numbers at the plate (.314, 21 HRs and 74 RBIs) weren’t a one-season stand, if the bat doesn’t produce, the Yankees could turn back to Andujar at third, where he continued to work during the shutdown.

“It was a matter of balancing working at third base and working in the outfield,” he said. “I worked at both positions the same amount of time.”

Filed under miguel andujar ,  new york yankees ,  7/9/20 Share this article: Share this:
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