Pizza Venti mascot left broken and glass damaged

A famous Salisbury pizza mascot was ‘killed’ last month, leaving the restaurant owner wondering about the future of his business.

Pizza Venti, which opened on November 2, 2020, suffered the loss on June 10 after a customer leaned over Charlie, decapitating him and leaving a crack in the window.

Alex Popescu, owner of Pizza Venti, feels the pressure is mounting on his small family business and that this extra cost is adding to the “snowball of death”.

The estimated cost of repairing the window is £3,500 which could be covered by Alex’s insurance, but he would still have to pay an excess of £300 and expects his premium to rise by £1,000 at £2,000 a year.

He said: “I don’t know about the future of my business. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m so demoralized I don’t know what to do.

“It’s starting to make you wonder why you’re sacrificing so much to provide a good experience for our customers.”

Bankruptcy fears

Launching his business just before the UK’s second nationwide lockdown, Alex overcame many hurdles but says it’s the toughest he’s ever been.

“It’s starting to look more and more like a process that’s going to go bankrupt, rather than a business that’s going to grow,” Alex added.

A new character has appeared in the Pizza Venti window – Mario – who is much smaller than Charlie but still gets a good reaction from passing children. A smaller version of Charlie, who now stands on the bar, was also given away.

Mario and a Mini Charlie can be found inside Pizza Venti

The cost of living crisis has had a huge impact on Pizza Venti. Alex said VAT was back to 20% and his energy costs increased by 250% in six months. To help cover rising business costs, Alex had to take out a new mortgage on his home in his home country.

Alex considers his options as he is determined to get Charlie fixed, as the figure means more to him than the loss of income. He added: “We consider Charlie a member of our team as he has always been a good friend to all the children. We don’t give up so easily.”

Customers showed overwhelming support for the company on Facebook, with some users offering to help fix Charlie.

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