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Restaurant Scraps Plan To Welcome Diners After Gaston Leader's 'Open For Business' Speech

Ann Doss Helms
Enzo's Pizza in Gastonia planned to reopen Wednesday after hearing an announcement from county commissioners. That didn't pan out.

Giuseppe Losavio, owner of Enzo’s Pizza in Gastonia, said he’d been planning to open his dining area May 8 until he heard there was a new plan for Gaston County. In a Wednesday morning press conference, County Commission Chairman Tracy Phlibeck said the county was "open for business"as long as businesses followed safety guildelines, despite the state's order.

"We got the message on Facetime that said by 5 o’clock we were allowed to open," Losavio said. "And that’s all we did. We were ready to open, so I went ahead and gave the OK." 

The restaurant posted its plans on a Facebook page devoted to Gaston County restaurants. Employee Danielle Runner said the initial reaction was good.

"They were excited," Runner said. "People wanted us to open. I mean, everybody was calling saying, 'You’re open? You’re open?' People want to open. People want to get out. But safety’s first, too, you know."

But the move was controversial. The administrator of the Gaston Eats Facebook group, David Turner, called Philbeck’s proclamation an “attempt to subvert the state order.”

John Bailey of Sammy’s Pub in Belmont posted a video on Gaston Eats.

"Been getting a lot of calls at the restaurant today wanting to know if we’re going to open," Bailey said. "And I wanted you to hear from me that we are not. We are going to continue doing business the same way we have been, which is to-gos only."

Bailey said Belmont town officials told him not to open.

"It doesn’t matter what Gaston County is doing," Bailey said. "Belmont is going to follow the state."

Before the afternoon was through, mayors of all 12 Gaston towns issued a statement backing the state’s stay-home order.

Meanwhile, Losavio says he got a visit from the police: "But then, all of a sudden, I don’t know, an officer came in and said that, 'You not allowed to open.'" 

Losavio said he has no problem waiting. He called the whole thing a misunderstanding and said even the officer called the mixed messages from the county confusing. 

"Once the policeman, the officer, came in and he said not to do it, we said, 'OK. No problem,'" Losavio said.

Wednesday evening, the restaurant was back to business as usual for the times, making pizzas for takeout and delivery only.

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