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Cleveland Pizza Week helping local shops like Pizza Whirl raise some extra dough in the pandemic

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Posted at 10:28 AM, Nov 11, 2021

CLEVELAND — Pizza shops across Cleveland are celebrating Cleveland Pizza Week through Sunday.

Cleveland Pizza week is a celebration of all things cheesy no matter how you slice it. Participating restaurants are crafting up their own specials from signature pies to secret menu specialties.

Local restaurants utilize the celebration to draw in new customers they might not otherwise attract.

For shops like Pizza Whirl in Ohio City, Pizza Week is crucial for their business, particularly coming out of the pandemic.

“The pandemic hurt us because we can’t find employees,” said owner Angelo Iwais. “The girls (daughters) have to work a little bit harder. The family has to work a little bit harder. So really, the pandemic hurt a lot of us.”

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Pizza Whirl shop in Ohio City.

A late-night staple in Ohio City for the last five years, Pizza Whirl has participated in Pizza Week for the last two years.

“We can't afford to advertise with big companies, but mom and pop pizza shop every little advertising, every little piece helps,” Iwais said.

After shutting down for about three weeks during the heat of the pandemic, Pizza Whirl reopened but had to slice their hours. Now a supply chain shortage is making things even more complicated.

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Pizza Whirl shop in Ohio City.

Everything from pepperoni to pizza boxes are hard to come by. For a shop that’s got a signature sauce, it’s become a big problem.

“My wife makes our special sauce every day. It’s a homemade sauce, it is freshly made every day,” Iwais said. “You have to go around trying to get the right ingredients to put in there because a lot of places don't have what you what you're looking for.”

When they do find supplies, they’re often paying two to three times what they normally would.

“We used to pay like $18 for boxes. Now they're $28,” Iwais said. “We have to do what we have to do. I mean, either we close the doors down or we'll just continue to thrive and do everything changes.”

There will be Cleveland Pizza Week passports available to help guide customers to participating restaurants. Passports can be picked up at participating locations on Nov. 8 and will be stamped by the restaurant for each pie order.

If you earn four or more stamps, you will be entered to win over $250 in gift cards.

After you purchase your pizza and before you devour it, take a picture, and share it on social media, tagging @clevelandpizzaweek on Instagram and using #ClevelandPizzaWeek.

RELATED: Coming soon: Cleveland Pizza Week celebrates the best the city has to offer

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