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If there’s one thing that can bring New Yorkers together during a crisis, it’s pizza.
And the Lexington Pizza Parlour is one restaurant in East Harlem that’s keeping that spirit alive by feeding health care workers and volunteers at the frontline of New York’s coronavirus outbreak free of charge.
Charles Devigne, manager and owner of the Lexington Pizza Parlour told FOX Business his restaurant had been making regular deliveries in the weeks leading up to the pandemic, many of which were made by workers at The Mount Sinai Hospital next door. However, when he got word that an emergency field hospital was being constructed in Central Park for coronavirus patients, he felt moved to help the volunteers who were working 13-hour shifts.
“My friend volunteered and I told him ‘I’d be happy to bring some food for the volunteers and everything you need.’ And it happened very quickly. It was sort of a sort of a one, two, three punch,” said Devigne, who delivered several boxes of pizza and canned beverages on Tuesday morning.
When the volunteers received the pizzas, Devigne explained they were gracious and joyful.
In his own words, “They were just so happy to have people helping each other. There's a lot of concern our residents in the Upper East Side and Harlem have with everything that's going on.”
“I'm sure it's happening all over the city. I just happen to be located near the hospital,” Devigne added. “Having a hospital built in Central Park is so symbolic of our collective neighborhood, where we all go to hang out, I think that really hit home. And it also makes you realize how close to home it is.”
Hot meals and beverages are served to the volunteers who are helping build the emergency field hospital in Central Park. (Lexington Pizza Parlour)
Although Lexington Pizza Parlour provides the traditional Italian dish, Devigne stressed that it has only been possible through the donations it has received from fellow New Yorkers to keep regular operations going while feeding local doctors, nurses, hospital workers, volunteers and everyone in between.
“I've been doing deliveries every day, two or three times a day and little by little, we're getting some funding from people. In the last few days, people have been so generous in New York, from $25 to $50 to $500,” Devigne remarked.
He has also received phone calls from people who live in different parts of the country and request to donate pies to the staff of Mount Sinai Hospital – most of which Lexington Pizza Parlour has had to facilitate after realizing these strangers had no connection to hospital, but still wanted to donate out of the kindness of their hearts.
And in the midst of uncertainty, Devigne expressed he is grateful and working hard to keep his staff hired.
“We have to make sure that we are going to last as long as possible,” he said. “We’re associated with another restaurant and we’ve actually started bringing some of those employees on to help out.”
Volunteer Jameson C. of the Trinity School helps prepare meal dishes for the NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital in Inwood, N.Y. (Lexington Pizza Parlour)
In a moment of reflection, Devigne noted that this isn’t the first crisis he and his company have faced.
“I was there at 9/11, during the hurricanes. It's always the same thing, it’s the medical field and restaurants that are there to support and take care of the larger community. And there are so many small donors that have helped make this happen,” Devigne explained. “I’m just one piece of a really amazing group of individuals and community members to make this happen. It’s humbling to work alongside so many great people”
Lexington Pizza Parlour is accepting donations on the restaurant’s Venmo account.