Chivo’s owner says restaurant may move if damage is too severe

A man brushes snow off the roof of Chivo’s Pizza at 2724 Niles Ave. in St. Joseph on Monday. The pizzeria has been closed for a week after the building sustained damage from last week’s storm. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

A man brushes snow off the roof of Chivo’s Pizza at 2724 Niles Ave. in St. Joseph on Monday. The pizzeria has been closed for a week after the building sustained damage from last week’s storm. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — Chivo’s Pizza has been closed for a week and there is no time line for when it will reopen.

The 2724 Niles Avenue pizzeria in St. Joseph developed a roof leak during the Dec. 28 ice storm and has been closed since Tuesday, Dec. 29.

Owner Tony Pedraza said they discovered more structural damage to the building when crews began repairing the initial leak. For this reason, the business has remained closed. Pedraza said they didn’t see the leak until last Tuesday, because the pizzeria is closed on Mondays.

“Last week, after the rain/sleet/snow stuff we got, we found a leak in our building,” Pedraza said. “I fixed it up the best I could, but we hold ourselves to a certain standard. We are trying to contain the leak the best we can. After so much damage, the building may be condemned for a little while. The roof has some holes that need to be fixed.”

Pedraza said they have a restoration crew working on the leased building.

He said he has also made appointments with the city’s building inspector and the health department. The owner’s plans are to wait it out – if there is a fix in the foreseeable future – or relocate permanently.

“We want to do nothing more than to make pizzas,” Pedraza said. “This is a major headache because this puts a halt on our operation. We just don’t know what to do and are figuring it out as we go.”

Pedraza said they are in search of alternative sites to relocate the restaurant, in the event it takes too long to restore the pizzeria to its previous self.

However, the decision to move has not been made.

“We’ve got a lot of support from the community that has reached out,” he said. “I have quite a few options. We’re doing our best to get those ovens fired up. It’s pretty much out of our hands. We will be out for some time, we just don’t know how long exactly.”

The pizzeria, which has been in operation for almost five years, debuted in February of 2011. Starting out, they initially offered 12- and 15-inch pizzas along with breads ticks, salads and soda. They increased the size of the pizzas two years ago to 14- and 18-inch pizzas. Pedraza said their pizzas are custom made, with he and his partner – Drew Truex (his brother in law) – being taught by an Italian family in South Bend.

“My partner and I have been making pizzas for more than half our lives,” said Pedraza, 27, who commutes from South Bend.

Because he commutes to work, Pedraza said Chivo’s has sometimes remained closed due to traveling restrictions. However, Chivo’s has never had to remain closed this long.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 5, 2016)

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