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‘In a better place’ | Adored DC pizzeria owner thanks community for support during COVID-19 pandemic

Last month, Kouzina Angelina’s Pizzeria was unsure if it would be able to keep its doors open.

WASHINGTON — While so many businesses are feeling a pinch during the coronavirus pandemic, the owners of a well-known pizza shop in Northwest D.C are breathing a brief sigh of relief.

Three weeks ago, Kouzina Angelina’s Pizzeria was unsure if it would be able to keep its doors open.

“It was very discouraging and very sad,” Angelina Pappas said. “I would sit in my chair and cry.”

If you know Pappas, or Mama Angelina as she’s known in the Shaw neighborhood, crying is the last thing anyone would want to hear from her.

“Sitting for hours and not a customer coming in,” she explained her previous situation.

Mama Angelina’s sons own a family-run pizza shop at Florida Avenue and 8th Street NW in the District.

She has made the people who have come into the business feel like family over the years.

Beloved DC pizzeria owner fights to keep business open during coronavirus crisis

'Here to my last breath' | Beloved DC pizzeria owner fights to keep business open during coronavirus crisis More: https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/dc-pizzeria-fights-to-stay-open/65-2575bcf1-f18f-43b8-bbf4-801b6ad0abb5

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

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.

Like many small businesses all over the D.C.-area, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic hit Kouzina Angelina’s pizza shop hard.

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“It’s tough because when you have your own business and you have your door open, if there is no money coming in there is no money to pay bills,” Mama Angelina said.

She feared they would have to shut down until after WUSA9 aired their story on March 30, and the community found out what the pizzeria was going through.

“After the story aired, we got a lot of response. We’re very appreciative and I want to thank everyone who has come to support us,” Mama Angelina told WUSA9.

She says people began getting pizzas delivered after she signed up for delivery apps and coming in for carry out orders.

Mama Angelina said she adapted to the changing environment and extended the store's menu to include sandwiches.

The family has also accepted love in the form of donations on Venmo after dozens of people insisted on helping.

“It has been overwhelming, and I know we’re not alone. That’s what it meant to me that people are stepping up,” Mama Angelina said.

Despite the spotlight being on her, Mama Angelina made it a point to try and help other people and small businesses in her shoes.

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“Small business is out there still. We haven’t gone away. We’re here. We’re alive. We’re open,” she encouraged people to support local businesses.

If you want to support Kouzina Angelina's, the restaurant is on Door Dash, Postmates, Uber Eats 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.