Sports columnist Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger and NJ.com cast journalistic objectivity aside and made it clear which team he’s rooting for—the crew at Federico’s Pizza & Restaurant in Belmar, New Jersey.
Even the headline of his March 23 column about Federico’s owner Bryan Morin betrayed Politi’s bias, urging readers to “buy his pizza!” That’s because Morin has taken out a $50,000 line of credit to make sure the 20 employees on his payroll continue to get paid over the next two months, corovirus pandemic or not.
“My father told us a long time ago: You’ve got to take care of your employees first, because without those employees, you don’t have a business at all,” Morin told Politi. “I definitely owe them a debt—even if it means I might go into debt.”
Morin is one of many New Jersey restaurateurs who face huge losses in revenue after being ordered to close their dining rooms to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Some have laid off employees, but that’s not how Morin rolls. In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, he noted that many of his workers have been with him for more than a decade and are essentially members of his family.
“I didn’t want them to worry about me paying my mortgage,” Morin told Carlson. “I didn’t want these guys … [to] have to worry about paying their rent, their utilities and insurance and other stuff.”
Although New Jersey restaurants are still allowed to provide delivery and takeout service, Morin wants to be prepared if he has to shut his restaurant down entirely. “I just took this [line of credit] out to guarantee that my employees, no matter what, they’ll continue to be able to pay their bills,” he told Carlson. “You’ve got to take care of your employees. Without your employees, you don’t have a business.”
Chelsea Phillips, who started out answering the phones at Federico’s 12 years ago and now manages the pizzeria, said she has friends in the restaurant business who “have no idea what they’re going to do with themselves. When I tell them [what Morin did], they want to know why I’m so lucky to work for the greatest people.”