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'Here to my last breath' | Beloved DC pizzeria owner fights to keep business open during coronavirus crisis

Kouzina Angelinas relied on foot traffic from bars and lounges in the Shaw neighborhood to help contribute to its business' success.

WASHINGTON — It is said that big things can sometimes come in small packages.

The saying could not be more true for a little pizza shop on Florida Avenue in Northwest D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood.

Along with the jumbo, cheesy pizza slices at Kouzina Angelina's, customers could usually count on big hugs and a huge smile from the woman who sits behind the counter.

"I feel like a big mom," Angelina Pappas said.

Pappas' sons own the pizza shop, and she has made the people who have come into the business feel like family over the years.

"They love us. They especially love me," she said. "They call me mom. They don't call me Angelina. They call me mom."

Pappas moved to the United States with her family when she was a small child.

"My parents came over from Greece for a better opportunity -- a better life for us," Pappas recalled.

She has dedicated her life to making life better for her children and extended family.'

Pappas is an advocate for D.C.'s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) community. She shows her support though a series of pictures on her walls and rainbow flags hung all over the building.

"The gay community -- I love these people. They are my family," Pappas told WUSA9.

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Family and the pizzeria are what keep Pappas going.

When the coronavirus hit the DMV, it shut down a lot of the traffic around Pappas’ restaurant, which left her to grapple with some of her worst fears.

Kouzina Angelina's relied on foot traffic from bars and lounges to help contribute to its business’ success.

The pizza shop is the family’s only source of income.

"We don’t have big resources and money tucked away like big businesses have," Pappas said. "The worst is we can’t pay our bills and I don’t want to shut the door. I’m here to my last breath."

The word got out about what Kouzina Angelina's was going through after Pappas signed up for delivery services.

Some people in the community Mama Angelina has given her heart to is now again buying pizzas again, posting pictures, and encouraging others to support on social media.

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Those who admire Mama Angelina and her contribution to the neighborhood are showing love in return the best way they know how.

"And I love them even more," Pappas said.

Mama Angelina is looking into applying for small business relief that was included in the federal stimulus package and other resources from the District.

If you want to support Kouzina Angelina's, the restaurant is on Door Dash, Postmates, and Grub Hub. The business is located at 725 Florida Avenue NW and open for carry out only during the coronavirus crisis.

The business' hours are between noon and 10 p.m. on weekdays, and noon to midnight on weekends.

Kouzina Angelina's has created a Venmo account to receive donations from supporters who are not able to get delivery services. The Venmo handle is: @KouzinaAngelinas.

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If you plan to do something special for Mama Angelina and her family, please email Michael Quander at mquander@wusa9.com.

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