No power? No problem for Nick's Pizza

DAVE ROGERS/Staff photoColin Lysick and Rebecca Kell were busy working Thursday afternoon at Nick's Pizza on Merrimack Street in Newburyport, one of the few businesses in the city with power.

NEWBURYPORT  — The nor’easter Thursday knocked out power for the entire city. But there was pizza — Nick’s Pizza on Merrimac Street, to be precise.

That’s because longtime owner Frank LaBarba, son of namesake Nick, had the foresight to install a massive generator big enough to run the entire shop last year. When he heard the city might lose power, he cranked up the gas-powered generator, made a few calls to staff and opened for business.

The response, he said, has been off the charts, adding that Thursday could be his busiest day ever, even besting Super Bowl Sunday.

“It’s been crazy, incredibly busy,” LaBarba said, enjoying the first lull of the day about 2:30 p.m.

He said he has enough supplies to make it through Saturday, but just in case, he ordered more food earlier in the day.

Nick’s Pizza employee Sophia Page should have been at Newburyport High School. But when school was canceled, the 16-year-old was behind the counter answering the phone and taking care of walk-ins.

“I knew we needed help here,” she said, adding that customers were thrilled to learn Nick’s Pizza was open on a day when nothing else seemed to be.

“They’re very thankful for us,” Page said.

While walk-in customers and deliveries made up a huge chunk of the day’s business, catering was also huge.

About lunchtime, nearby Mersen Corp. ordered 20 trays of food. But despite what could be a record-setting day for the pizzeria, LaBarba said he’d prefer to have it be an ordinary day where everyone had power.

“I’m very sorry people don’t have heat,” LaBarba said. Normally, Nick’s Pizza closes at 9 p.m. but LaBarba said he may extend his hours as long as the city is without power.

“We’re going to play everything by ear,” LaBarba said.

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