Nightly News

Nightly News   |  October 10, 2011

Slice of life: Community steps up to save pizzeria

Nick's Pizza is an Illinois eatery where families bring the kids, and you can throw the peanut shells on the floor. When Nick’s announced it was facing foreclosure, the community rallied to save the beloved pizzeria. NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Finally tonight, there are so many businesses struggling because the economy is in the tank. Some of them are victims. Others have problem businesses, and admitting that can be tough. But when the going got tough for one small business owner in a community outside Chicago , when he chose honesty, the customers chose to reward him. The story tonight from NBC 's Ron Allen .

RON ALLEN reporting: Nick 's Pizza is a place where families bring the kids, and you can throw the peanut shells on the floor. And everyone was stunned when owner Rick Sarillo announced he was facing foreclosure and after 16 years on the verge of shutting down. You could see where the end could be coming.

Mr. RICK SARILLO: It was -- it was darn scary.

ALLEN: So Sarillo sent his customers this desperate email. "Believe me, I have already tried everything possible," he wrote. "My final request is for each of you to come to Nick 's now and tell as many people as possible to come now."

Mr. SARILLO: What's hard about that is, you know, I've always been a go-getter my whole life. This time I didn't know what else to do.

ALLEN: Ironically, Sarillo 's problems started a few year ago when times were good. He expanded his business, hired more people, expecting this community to grow. But then recession and foreclosure stopped all that and people also stopped buying pizza. But then that email, sent to some 16,000 customers, went viral. And it looked like most of them showed up.

Ms. MARY KOWALSKI (Server): It went out Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday night we were packed.

Unidentified Man #1: When he sent out the email to Bob , Bob sent it to me, sent it to Carl , sent it to Rob .

ROB: And it's just something that just tugs at our heartstrings that we want to do.

Mr. SARILLO: All right. We got pizza.

ALLEN: Business doubled for the week, helping Sarillo pay his bills, for now.

Mr. SARILLO: Is that for me?

Offscreen Voice: That's for you.

Miss HARPER KENNY: Yeah.

Mr. SARILLO: Really?

ALLEN: Four-year-old Harper Kenny even gave Sarillo five quarters from her piggy bank.

Ms. LAUREL KENNY (Harper's Mom): We read the email and I talked to the kids about it, and she really took it to heart.

Mr. SARILLO: How could you not be inspired by the guests, the turnout that this is? You know, it's truly amazing.

ALLEN: While Sarillo has not solved all his money woes, Nick 's is one small business getting a big boost and serving up a lot of pizza. Ron Allen , NBC News, Crystal Lake, Illinois.