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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Sep. 18, 2017 1 year ago

Local pizzeria pays it forward in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma

Gotham City Pizza delivered free pizzas to first responders and residents in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

Despite having no power in their restaurant, Gotham City Pizza answered a Bat-Signal and delivered free pizzas to first responders and residents with no electricity from Sept. 11-13. 

Over the course of three days, Gotham City, which recently opened in August, cranked out between 60-80 pizzas using their gas ovens. During Hurricane Irma, a tornado touched down just a block from the pizzeria, and after seeing the effects in the area, Owner Marco Falletta drove to his supplier US Foods' location in Port Orange. He gathered all the ingredients he needed to make dough, sauce, plus some cheese to shred, and got to work.

“We always vowed, when we could, we would reach out and help out the community," Falletta said. "Plus the fact, we’re called Gotham City Pizza. We figured it kind of fits that we help the community also.”

Falletta said this mentality comes from the amount of help his own family has gotten from places like the Ronald McDonald House and the Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville when his quadruplets were born. 

An electrical worker gets a couple of pizzas from Falleta. Photo courtesy Marco Falleta

For them, the hurricane came at the worst time possible. Gotham City Pizza has been open for just over a month, and closing their business for a week due to power could have had disastrous consequences.

“Me and my wife were even talking that we don’t even know if we’d be able to withstand the aftermath of staying open,” Falletta said.

That didn't deter him from trying to help the community in the best way he knew how. He publicized his actions on the Gotham City Facebook page as well as his own account, showing videos of him handing pizzas to a first responder inside Fire Station 93. 

It was on Facebook that a "pay it forward" pizza movement began. A friend of Falletta's offered to donate money for what he was doing, which Falletta said he wouldn't accept. So the friend asked if he could give him the money for one pizza, which Falletta could then deliver to someone in need.

One of the people who "paid it forward" was Jeffrey Levinson of the Trails Board of Directors. Levinson has known Falletta since he and his father had a pizzeria in the Trails Shopping Center. 

He went directly to the pizzeria and asked to buy a 16-inch cheese pizza, and when it came time to pay, Levinson gave double the amount for the pizza. He asked that the extra money be used to make a pizza for someone else. Right as he was saying that, Falletta came in to the store.

“He was standing right behind me and I didn’t even know it," Levinson said.

He commended Falletta for what he was doing despite having no power in the restaurant. Falletta used his generator to power the refrigerator, which meant the pizzeria was almost unbearably hot inside due to the ovens. Falletta estimated the temperature could have gone up as high as 118 degrees.

“It was steamy in there, let me tell you," Levinson said.

Falletta received donations for pizzas from not only the community, but people across the nation who support his concept of a superhero-themed pizzeria. Levinson said since Falletta is well-known in the DC Comics and Marvel circle, a lot of people reached out.

“We really appreciate the community coming together and supporting us," Falletta said.

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