On a typical Monday, Heavenly Pizza in Findlay, Ohio, gets about 90 orders out its doors. But earlier this month the shop’s owner, Josh Elchert, made it a goal to double that amount of business as he declared July 5, a Monday, to be “Employee Appreciation Day.” As a show of gratitude to the pizzeria’s workers who stuck with the shop amid the pandemic, consistently showing up to work in high spirits, Elchert wanted to dedicate the entire day’s sales, plus tips, to his shop’s employees.
To get the word out leading up to the appreciation day, Elchert posted a couple of videos announcing the pizzeria’s plans for the profit share on Heavenly Pizza’s Facebook page.
When the appreciation day rolled around, orders started pouring into the shop.
By the end of the day, Heavenly Pizza pulled off a small miracle, preparing a grand total of 220 orders. The shop did $6,300 in sales, and pulled in an additional $1,200 in tips, including a generous $275 tip left by one customer, Elchert said. Another customer who wasn’t going to be able to order a pizza on that Monday came in over the weekend and put $100 into the tip pool. Employees earned nearly $80 an hour during their shifts on the Appreciation Day.
“Our customers came out and showed appreciation for us, and we were able to give that all right back to our employees,” Elchert said.
Here’s a post the shop shared after the Employee Appreciation Day:
Restaurants nationwide are battling a labor shortage, hanging “help wanted signs” and scaling back on menu items as they struggle to remain open. But at Heavenly Pizza, Elchert says he’s grateful that his employees have stuck with the shop throughout the pandemic.
“We wanted to honor and show value and appreciation to our employees,” says Elchert, who opened the shop 11 years ago.
In all, 22 employees worked on the Employee Appreciation Day.
“We were all gung-ho and excited about the day,” says Olivia Schultz, a manager who has worked at Heavenly Pizza for three years. “I was making the pizzas and could tell just how busy we were.”
The shop is known for having the biggest pizza in town (its jumbo pizza is a rectangular pie that’s 26 by 18 inches) and Heavenly is beloved for its slightly sweet pizza sauce. The chicken bacon ranch pizza is also a fan favorite, Schultz says.
Many of the employees are high school students and the pizzeria is their first-ever job. Timmy Lemire, a manager at Heavenly Pizza who has worked at the shop for five years, says it’s an overarching goal to make sure the teens have a great “first job experience” and there’s a work environment governed by mutual respect and kindness.
While the shop is a fun place to work year-round, with employees often singing and dancing as they make pizzas, Lemire says spirits were especially high on the Employee Appreciation Day.
“I was blown away by the generosity — not only of Josh, but also the customers who showed their appreciation,” Lemire says.