MARIETTA, Ga. — A small business in Marietta, which has been serving up pizza, pasta, sandwiches, salads, wings, board games, and good company for nearly a decade, might be forced to shut its doors soon.
However, customers of Liberty Pizza, like Liore Friedman and her five-year-old daughter, Callie, are trying to keep their trusty shop open.
"I discovered this place a couple of months after I got pregnant which was good timing because I was very hungry once I got pregnant," Friedman said. "We've tried everything on the menu and it's so good. Every time we come, there's something new to try. At Thanksgiving time, there was a Thanksgiving pizza with cranberry and stuffing on it."
You can find Liberty Pizza in a Marietta strip mall along Powers Ferry Road. Once you walk inside, you're transported to New York City: Mets pennants line a wall, a small Statue of Liberty is on display by the register, and even a New York Subway sign hangs near the kitchen.
But it's the people that make it extra special for Jeanette Kalas.
"It's like coming into Cheers," she said. "You walk in and everybody knows your name. They go, 'Jeanette' or 'Vince'. We're fiercely protective of our locally-owned businesses."
Liberty Pizza has been a piece of this community for over eight years. The owners, Michelle and Gerry, say staffing issues, rising product costs, slowdown of orders, and credit and delivery fees have made business difficult.
"It is very scary to me... that is the state that business has come to," Friedman said. "The price of food is increasing, the cost of the ingredients is increasing, so what's a small business to do? My grocery bill has gone up, theirs has probably gone up exponentially. The difference is, I'm not a restaurant. If I have leftover vegetables, they can go in the freezer and I can serve them again in two weeks. A restaurant is not going to put pizza toppings in the freezer."
Loyal customers say they are not ready to say bye to the specialty pies or the company. That's why they hope enough money is raised online to keep the doors open longer.
"I was just sick," Kalas said. "It would be a huge loss. We have extended friends and family now because of Liberty Pizza and it just would be heartbreaking to walk past here and not have Michelle and Gerry here."
They hope the fundraiser will be the special ingredient to help them stay.
"We don't want more fast food restaurants," Kalas said. "We don't want empty shopping centers. We all want to do whatever we can and encourage people to help, to donate, to bring people into the restaurant, try a new place. It'll become your local hangout too and we'll know your name when you come in."
To donate and help keep Liberty Pizza open, click here.