Nella Pizza e Pasta launched a GoFundMe for its employees this week, hoping to secure enough money to keep from laying off employees this winter. 

Since the city’s ban on indoor dining went into effect two weeks ago, manager and co-owner Frank Grassano said, the restaurant at 1125 E. 55th St. won’t be able to keep all of its employees with its current revenues, which currently come mostly from pick-up and delivery orders. 

“Even when it was open, not too many guests were comfortable sitting inside. The majority of our business came only when it was nice out,” he said. “We’re asking for contributions so we can keep our staff instead of laying them off.” 

The campaign, which has been live since Tuesday, has so far raised $2,725 of its $20,000 goal. Any donation over $50 also comes with an added perk — a thank you dinner cooked by Nella Grassano, the pizzaiola whose creations earned her restaurant a Bib Gourmand designation from the Michelin Guide

Frank Grassano said that he would like to see another round of federal help. 

“If they do another round of (Paycheck Protection Program) loans that would get us through the winter,” he said. “The state grants, if we do get approved, are very minimal. Yes, it helps, but we’re not capable of keeping the doors open. PPP would get us through the next five to six months, so we can pass through the winter.” 

He also thanked patrons and residents for their support through the pandemic, noting that a previous fundraiser in the spring raised $12,000. 

“The community’s been great helping us through these last six months,” he said. “We’re here for them and hopefully they continue supporting us so we can get through this.”  

Donate to the Nella Pizza e Pasta fundraiser at


Christian Belanger graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017. He has previously written for South Side Weekly, Chicago magazine and the Chicago Reader.

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