We The Pizza, Others Providing Comfort Food to National Guard Protecting Capitol
WASHINGTON – The boxes were recognizable to anyone who has spent a little time on Capitol Hill.
Even from a distance, the white circle and black star emblazoned on the box inspired mouth-watering visions of sauce and melted cheese to those in the know.
And to the National Guard gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, the pizzas being hand delivered by Rep. Vicky Hartlzer, R-Mo., and Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., no doubt provided a measure of comfort and relief in the midst of their high-stress mission.
The National Guard troops are here in the wake of the unprecedented siege of the U.S. Capitol last week and to prevent further violence in the lead up and immediate aftermath of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
No matter how long they stay, Micheline Mendelsohn Luhn, deputy chief executive officer of We The Pizza told The Well News on Thursday, they’re going to be well fed.
“We are providing pizzas to the guards as long as they are here,” Luhn said. “Our customers can also order through our website to make donations of a pie and wings … we’re also working with local businesses that have been hurting to help provide food as well through donations.
“Our friends at Buffalo & Bergen are providing breakfast bagels for them and we’re talking with others too,” she said.
As one can readily imagine, feeding the protectors of the Capitol is “a huge order,” Luhn said.
“We are matching every pizza bought as well,” she said.
Asked how We The Pizza is catering to the tastes of the troops, Luhn said “We’ve been doing heavier on the meat toppings — sausage and peppers, double pepperoni, bacon me crazy. We also sent one of our most famous pies — forest mushrooms and buffalo chicken pie.”
Although there are challenges to meeting such an unanticipated demand — with the staff seeming to be perpetually tossing dough – Luhn said after an extremely slow year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “it’s nice to be busy for such a good cause.”
And as a result, the restaurant’s suppliers are benefiting too, as We The Pizza stocks up on more cheese and toppings and other supplies.
Turning serious, Luhn said there’s no doubt that the lockdown of downtown D.C. has been a blow to the local business community, compounding the difficulties of doing business during a pandemic.
“COVID was an incredible blow,” she said. “Because of it, many business owners have closed some restaurants, or had to minimize staff, re-arrange landlord leases every three months, cut their menu down because staff on hand is less and customers are less.
“It has been a very difficult day by day struggle to stay open. Despite this, D.C. owners made it through a year and we were looking forward to some pick up in business with the promise of vaccines and a new year,” Luhn continued.
“The recent attacks on the Capitol were so violent … like nothing that we’ve ever seen here before,” she said. “It has forced many of us to be closed because of street closures. On the one hand, there aren’t enough people coming in to pick up orders, and on the other, delivery drivers are having a difficult time arriving at their destination.
“It’s just another blow to area businesses and very scary for staff that travel by Metro and other forms of transportation to and from work. And there’s the issue of serving people that don’t want to wear masks or that are aggressive people by nature.
“The lockdown has affected businesses that normally would be busy during the lead up to a presidential inauguration,” she added.
Luhn said in all her years in business, she’s never seen one like the one currently unfolding in D.C.
“The most wonderful thing about living here is you get to experience people from all over the nation and the world visiting our beautiful monuments, cherry blossoms and peacefully protesting for their cause,” she said.
“No matter what the protests were, for the most part, they were peaceful, so people could be heard and get their message across. The attacks last week were a disgusting display of domestic terrorism in the sacred halls of our nation’s Capitol building and I hope we will never have to witness anything like this again. The military presence, although extremely important and making us feel safer, is just so sad to see,” Luhn said.
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