- Gus Karageorge, the manager of Linwood Pizza, and longtime pizza maker Manny Macancela, died of complications from the coronavirus within days of each other.
- The two men leave behind a combined seven children, and a GoFundMe page has been created to assist their families.
COVID-19 recently dealt a devastating double blow to New Jersey’s Linwood Pizza and its customers, claiming the lives of two longtime employees.
Gus Karageorge, the pizzeria’s manager, and Manny Macancela, the primary pizza maker, died within days of each other earlier this month due to complications from the coronavirus, according to NorthJersey.com. The two men had worked together for more than 30 years at the famous neighborhood pizza joint in Fort Lee, New Jersey, located near the George Washington Bridge. (There is a second Linwood Pizza store in Totowa, New Jersey.)
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been created to help their families cover funeral expenses and medical bills. It has thus far generated a little over $25,000 toward a goal of $30,000.
“They were not just employees to us, they were our family,” the GoFundMe page, posted by Ross Missiris, states. “They touched both the people they worked with as well as the community they served for the last three decades.”
Between them, Karageorge and Macancela left behind a combined seven children, one of whom has special needs.
“Our hearts are broken after this week’s tragic turn of events,” Linwood Pizza posted on Facebook on March 11. “Gus Karageorge and Manny Macancela have been with us for over 30 years. We worked side by side seven days a week serving the greater Fort Lee area. Over that time, we became family and formed friendships with our customers in a way that only a small family business can. No words can express how we feel right now.”
The GoFundMe page noted the struggles that small business owners and employees can face, especially in the COVID-19 era.
“The workers in the food business sometimes go underappreciated,” the post reads. “Most people do not see the 14 hours a day, 7 days a week of work that is required of the workers in this industry. There are no pensions, no 401Ks, no paid vacation days, no severance, and most days, no lunch or dinner breaks because they are busy serving customers their lunches and dinners.”
“We are doing everything we can to help their families, but the past year has been tough on everyone, especially owners and workers of small family-owned businesses,” the post continued.