Oblio's Pizzeria offers regular kid-friendly events featuring cartoon, film and comic book heroes.

Oblio's Pizzeria / Facebook

Woman-Owned Pizzeria Turns to Crowdfunding to Stay in Business

Oblio's Pizzeria has supported its community for years. Now the owners are asking the community to help them in return.

  • Struggling with rising costs for ingredients and labor, Oblio’s Pizzeria, a woman-owned business in Denver, has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $50,000.
  • So far, the campaign has drummed up $32,000 and customers “have come back to the restaurant in droves.”

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Can a GoFundMe campaign turn things around for Oblio’s Pizzeria in Denver? After years of giving to the community, the restaurant’s owners are hoping the community will give back—and, so far, it’s working.

According to the Denver Channel, Oblio’s Pizzeria has long supported the city’s Park Hill neighborhood with fundraisers for local schools and even backing a teachers’ strike for higher pay. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to cripple the local economy, the pizza shop offered free dinners for furloughed workers and their families. “I love helping people out because I just love the community,” Oblio’s co-owner Morgan McKay told the Denver Channel.

Oblio’s is a family-friendly pizza restaurant with events aimed at kids and parents alike, including weekly Magic Thursdays featuring a local magician. Coming up: Oblio’s will host Dinner With the Superheroes on Tuesday, December 7, with cosplayers dressed as beloved comic book characters like Captain America and Wonder Woman, as well as Dinner With Santa on December 14. Other recent events have included Dinner With Paw Patrol and Princess/Superhero/Character Nights every Tuesday.

But the labor shortage and supply chain issues have made it difficult for Oblio’s to hang on. “First, there was a cheese shortage,” McKay said. “Then, there was a wing shortage. All these restaurants [don’t] even have wings on their menu anymore because you can’t get wings anywhere. And now there’s a pizza box shortage.”

McKay said the pizzeria had to raise its prices “dramatically” to keep up with expenses. The menu includes artisanal pizzas like The Grinch (pesto base, sausage, Brussel sprouts, crushed red pepper and Parmesan cheese); the Fiesta Italiana (green chile sauce, chicken, Monterrey Jack and cheddar cheeses, diced green chiles, diced tomatoes and onions) and the Autumn Amore (white sauce, butternut squash, creamy ricotta, red onions, rosemary, garlic, feta cheese and a balsamic glaze drizzle).

Oblio’s is a woman-owned business—McKay operates it with her mother, Dawn McKay. They created the GoFundMe campaign on Sunday, November 28, seeking to raise $50,000. So far, supporters have shelled out $32,005 in 404 donations.

When COVID-19 hit, the restaurant’s dine-in traffic began to fade. Then, water and sun damage destroyed the pizzeria’s awnings and the draft beer cooler died. They’re also having problems with heaters and furnaces and need a new walk-in freezer. “And with our sales being down over $200,000 from previous years and food costs and labor costs sky-rocketing, sadly, things have taken a turn for the worst,” McKay explains on the GoFundMe page. “We are on the brink of closure.”

Hopefully, the GoFundMe campaign will make a difference. The Denver Channel reports that customers “have come back to the restaurant in droves.”

“It makes me want to cry that so many people are supporting us,” McKay said. “There’s people … that are there to love you and uplift you, and so I just try and stay positive and hope that it’ll work out.”

Click here to donate to Oblio’s GoFundMe campaign.