Sat, April 20, 2024

Free Access: Struggling North Augusta pizzeria needs a little amore

New York-style pizza was born when Italian immigrants brought pizza to New York City in the early 1900’s. For many, it was love, or amore, at first bite for a pie featuring large and wide slices with a thin crust that is foldable yet crispy.

Flash forward to 2018, when Doughboy’s NY Pizzeria opened in North Augusta. The business owned by Jeremiah Bozeman was off to a great start, like an Aiken horse at the Steeplechase. Doughboy’s features pizza, other Italian staples including strombolis and calzones, and live music. The place was hopping at lunch and dinner time, five days a week.

Then, Covid reared its ugly head. Like many other businesses, Bozeman’s pizza place skidded to a halt. They lost most of their employees. Customers weren’t venturing out much. Jeremiah, a firefighter by day, and his brother Joshua, a combat veteran, worked to keep the business afloat.

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So, they flipped pies and served the few hungry patrons who ventured to their place at 1367 West Martintown Road in North Augusta.

The brothers served up pizza in costume during Halloween as Nintendo characters, Joshua as Luigi on the left and Jeremiah as Mario.

“Since then, it’s been one challenge after another,” Joshua Bozeman said. “We lost most of our cooks and servers. Our staff has seen a turnover about seven times in the past year. So, it’s been stopping and starting over and over again.”

As if all those challenges weren’t enough, in the middle of last year, Doughboy’s Pizzeria ovens went kaput. This year’s pizza-making pressures involved the loss of a $25,000 cooler and a walk-in freezer.

From staffing challenges and inflation to limited indoor dining options and incurred debt, many restaurants that remain open are still struggling to survive. Others shut their doors permanently. About 90,000 restaurants and bars had closed as of May 2021, according to the National Restaurant Association. In that respect, Doughboy’s NY Pizzeria is a survivor.

“We don’t know what tomorrow will bring because it’s hard just to afford the ingredients for all the dishes we make in-house from scratch,” Bozeman said. “But we aren’t giving up without a fight.”

Surviving comes naturally to these Augusta brothers. Aside from owning the pizzeria, Jeremiah works two jobs to support his family, as a Belvedere Firefighter and as Fire Chief for Graphic Packaging International.

Meanwhile, Joshua supports his brother as a volunteer to keep the business going. It’s in the genes. They both flipped pizzas for Roma’s Pizza in Augusta for several years. Their dad is retired from the Army. Before his service, Doughboy was a popular nickname for WWI infantrymen, thus, the name for the Bozeman pizzeria. Today, the Bozeman doughboys are still serving in a different way.

Doughboys Pizza supports first responders and first responders support them.

They offer 20 percent off meals for all first responders including fire, police, EMS, military, and nurses, and “that won’t stop because our business was built around those who protect our community.”

Consistency has returned to their restaurant in the form of trained cooks and servers. Guests who have checked in on social media give their food a thumbs up. They just need a few more “regulars” to keep the business afloat.

Customer favorites include the “works” pizza and their specialty pie with Buffalo chicken, bacon, and hot sauce. Doughboy’s New York Pizzeria is usually open Wednesday through Saturday, 4-9 p.m., but this week will be open Thursday and Friday only. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

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