SHENANGO VALLEY – A Sharpsville woman is eager to help local restaurants struggling during the coronavirus emergency.
Jennifer Chiodo started a Facebook page entitled “Shenango Valley Takeout.” Her goal is to update residents on what local eateries are doing during the time that they are mandated to be closed.
“Living in the valley, I have a love for our small restaurants,” Chiodo said. “The family-run restaurants are favorites around here. We have a huge amount of a variety of food here.”
Chiodo started the Facebook page about a week ago and already has almost 7,000 people who have joined.
“My fiance works at La Isla. It’s a family-run restaurant,” Chiodo said. “That place has a special place in my heart. To think they would have to close down or take a loss of some kind would make me sad.”
Chiodo said she started the page because she’s close to small business owners and they are like family.
“I just thought, ‘What can I do to help these guys?’” she said. “For school, when we need something or donations, they are always there for us. There are three or four restaurants that, off the top of my head, never tell me no.”
First, Chiodo started featuring the restaurants on her personal profile. Then, she started sharing menus with her family and came up with the idea to make it a Facebook page.
“At the time I made the page, I went to five different stores and couldn’t find a pack of chicken breast so I thought I’d eat out,” Chiodo said. “I started calling around asking their hours and put them on the page. Just to get the word out that these places need us.”
She started putting up the specials from the restaurants and adding their menus to the page.
Some of the restaurants featured on “Shenango Valley Takeout” are Toss’d Italian Bar & Grille, 3640 E. State St., Hermitage, DiLorenzo’s Deli, 30 S. Shenango St., Thelma’s Sports Nook, 285 E. High St. Extension, Muscarella’s Cafe Italia, 500 Main St., all Sharpsville and Tony’s Pizza, 628 Stambaugh Ave., Sharon.
These places have all offered gift cards that have been given away on the page.
“They’re still giving back to the community, even though it’s a hard time for these guys,” Chiodo said.
Most valley restaurants are still open but have switched to take-out or delivery only.
“At La Isla, you pull up to the window and they bring your food out. Thelma’s will deliver or you can pick it up. DiLorenzo’s has delivered to Mercer,” Chiodo said. “And the restaurants have all been very cautious and very clean.”
Chiodo was contacted by the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce, who teamed up with the page to start bringing lunch to first responders.
“A lot of the medical teams are under strict access, so we’re setting up the lunches,” said Sherris Moreira, executive director. “We coordinate with the leader to get the lunch to them in a safe, social distancing way.”
The chamber kicked off the first responders lunch on Thursday with lunch purchased by Peggy Dunder with Howard Hanna from Hangry’s in Sharon. Drinks were donated by Cynthia Torrence, creator of NIU by TALLS LLC.
“Everything was taken to the lab department at UPMC Horizon, who very much enjoyed the food and the support,” Moriera said.
Moreira said “Shenango Valley Takeout” has helped the chamber amplify the businesses.
“I think it’s just a great way to bring our community together to support our restaurants,” Moreira said. “How many times have we asked the businesses to support us with gift cards? Now is the time we can support them.”
The business owners are very appreciative of Chiodo’s Facebook page.
“I thought it was a great idea. I thought it was great support to local businesses,” said Tom Patton, owner of Muscarella’s. “We’re still here. We’re still open. We’re still serving. We all need to do what we can to get through these times, and that really seems to help.”
Chiodo said she will continue with the page after the coronavirus emergency is over.
“We have hidden little treasures everywhere,” Chiodo said. “I’m loving what this is doing for all of us.”
Follow Melissa Klaric on Twitter and Facebook @HeraldKlaric, email: email@example.com