Amy Armetta welcomes a local policeman to Jo Jo's.

Jo-Jo's Famous New York-Style Pizza & Subs / Facebook
Pizza News

Jo-Jo’s: Resilience Paid Off in This COVID-19 Comeback Story

Nearly forced to close due to the pandemic, Jo-Jo's Famous New York-Style Pizza & Subs is now a two-store enterprise in Virginia.

  • Faced with closing down their restaurant, Jo-Jo’s Famous New York Style Pizza and Subs owners Amy and Enrico Armetta doubled down on a second location instead.
  • They recruited their young children and friends to help renovate the new shop in the midst of the pandemic—and the gamble has paid off.

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The pandemic nearly put Jo-Jo’s Famous New York Style Pizza & Subs out of business. But owners Amy and Enrico “Jo-Jo” Armetta have proven that a little “stick-to-it-iveness” can not only keep the doors open but can even lead to growth.

As the Chesterfield Observer reports, the Armettas thought they would have to close down their original Jo-Jo’s location in Richmond, Virginia, when surrounding businesses started sending their employees home to work in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and dine-in services were disallowed.

“We suffered tremendously,” Amy Armetta told the newspaper. “Like, it was really tough. It’s hard not to talk about it without getting emotional.”

Today, that store is back near pre-pandemic sales levels, and the Armettas recently opened a second Jo-Jo’s in Midlothian, Virginia, both specializing in New York-style pizza.

Like most restaurants, the original Jo-Jo’s made the pivot to delivery as the pandemic raged on, but the payoff was less than they’d hoped for. “I would constantly post in neighborhood groups,” Amy recalled. “[Jo-Jo] would close at 3 o’clock and bring pizzas to everyone’s doorstep that would ask. I would be like, ‘You can Venmo me. You can call. Like, it doesn’t matter…I, we will do anything, you know, just to make a couple hundred dollars that day or whatever to make ends meet.’”

Then came some good news—good for the Armettas, at least. A pizza shop in Midlothian was closing its doors. “We had a long talk and decided the only way to dig ourselves out is to start digging,” Amy told the Chesterfield Observer.

Enrico “Jo-Jo” and Amy Armetta

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Unfortunately, the Midlothian space was in dire need of renovations. The Armettas, with help from family members and friends, went to work with a Memorial Day 2021 grand opening in mind. But the pandemic’s effects were still rippling throughout the country, creating supply chain snags that made it much harder to repair equipment. In one case, coils for their refrigerator were stuck on a barge. Now the opening had to be delayed until Labor Day.

Then, the entire Armetta family contracted COVID-19. That set them back another two weeks. And once they recovered, they couldn’t find workers with experience or skills.

So they had a shiny, beautiful two-story building with tall windows and lots of sunlight—and no one to work in it. What to do? Still undaunted, the Armettas decided to put their trust in the next generation. “We hired eighteen 15-year-olds because, of course, they were the only people that applied,” Amy said.

Memorial Day and Labor Day passed, then Christmas 2021. But, finally, on January 31, the new Jo-Jo’s location opened in Midlothian, earning positive press coverage and devoted fans with its extensive menu that includes pizzas, sandwiches, calzones and strombolis. And Jo-Jo’s Richmond location has rebounded as well—it’s currently listed as one of the Richmond area’s best pizzerias by Discover Richmond Tours.

Amy modestly credits her husband, a Brooklyn native, for the two restaurants’ survival and success, noting that he’s “a great guy” with “a big heart.” She adds, “Everyone loves to just see him and talk to him. He makes everyone laugh and feel good.”

But Jo-Jo’s comeback was a family affair all the way. “We came in with our kids, and we did everything,” she told the Chesterfield Observer. “I have millions of pictures of our six-year-old and nine-year-old scrubbing all these tables with me and moving furniture around and painting. And we made every single picture. Every inch of everything I did with my children.”