OCEANPORT, NJ – Donna Perrulli and her husband Mike have been in the restaurant business since she was 19-years-old and she and her husband opened up Bella Napoli in Jackson, but sold that restaurant to Peter Grippo, who opened up Brooklyn Square. For the past 15 years, the Perrullis have also operated Mia Italian Restaurant in Oceanport.
“We were forced to close after Christmas Eve this year,” Perrulli said. “We are proud Italians and we’re used to doing everything ourselves, but at this point we do need help. We’ve always worked hard for everything we have.”
Perrulli said the restrictions in place during the pandemic have killed business and she decided to close the restaurant for a month after Christmas. She said her dining room, which seats up to 100 has been empty.
“Nobody was coming in,” she said of her once-thriving business. “People are afraid to come in without the mask and I don’t do a big takeout business. My husband and I are getting old, we do all of the work ourselves, all the prep work and there was not enough business to sustain all that work and all of the costs. I’m trying to get by until people get vaccinated or this thing passes.”
This weekend, Perrulli got a call from Dave Portnoy, CEO of Barstool Sports and founder of the Barstool Fund, a fund to help small businesses during the pandemic.
“Something has got to be done,” Portnoy said. “It should be coming from the government, it’s not, it is what it is…or it should be open.”
Portnoy hopes the donation to Mia will be a stopgap solution for Perrulli to keep her business running.
“This is the best Christmas present,” she said. She also thanked Portnoy for coming up with the Barstool Fund.