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Chicago-Style Pizza Chain Yanks Franchise From Owner Who Blasted Governor’s Order

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Rosati’s Pizza has terminated an agreement with a Central Illinois franchisee

A table full of pizzas.
Rosati’s Pizza has been around since 1964.
Rosati’s Pizza [Official Photo]

A Rosati’s Pizza franchise in a Central Illinois city, about 200 miles south of Chicago, is under fire after its franchisee on Sunday posted a large sign in the restaurant’s windows reading: “Gov. Pritzker Screw You.” The message was a response to the Illinois’s governor’s executive order that will keep restaurant dining rooms closed for two weeks in hopes of curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus. After seeing the sign, Rosati’s has revoked the franchise from the owner, according to the Herald & Review (Decatur).

A Taylorville restaurant reaction to closing next week.

Posted by 217 Problems on Sunday, March 15, 2020

The 20-seat pizzeria is located in Taylorville, a town with a population of about 10,000. For the last year it was run by Peggy Brandon, according to the newspaper. The economies is different from rural areas which don’t have the volume of restaurants for pickup or delivery compared those in big cities. With that in mind, Brandon told a reporter that she didn’t understand the reason behind Pritzker’s order as there have been no reported COVID-19 cases near the restaurant.

“And yet he (Pritzker) wants me and my servers to go without income for two weeks. Is the government going to pay us? Hell no, they’re not. Pritzker is a (expletive, expletive). He needs to go,” Brandon told the newspaper.

The sign, which covered the restaurant’s windows, went up Sunday afternoon after Pritzker announced restaurant and bars would be closed until March 30. Carryout, delivery, and curbside service are allowed. On Tuesday, Rosati’s corporate, based in Warrenville, sent Brandon a letter terminating their franchise agreement with her.

The letter read that Rosati’s agreed with the governor and Illinois Restaurant Association in closing dining rooms down and that while other locations were embracing the new safety precautions, that the Taylorville franchisee “selfishly took this juvenile approach” and did not hold the same values as the company.

The Facebook page that first noticed the sign, 217 Problems, also has a post from a Central Illinois restaurant owner who wrote that he is ignoring the state’s order to close dining rooms. Both Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, during their daily COVID-19 media briefings, have warned restaurants to comply or face consequences.

News of this comes after the state department of health on Tuesday reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has spiked with 55 new cases, bringing the total to 160 in Illinois. That includes the state’s first virus-related death, a 61-year-old Chicago woman. The virus has now arrived in all 50 states — that includes urban areas and rural places.

Rosati’s was founded in 1964 in Chicago and now has more than 200 locations across the country. The chain specializes in Chicago-style pizza, both deep dish and tavern style. The company provided this statement, similar to the letter posted online earlier this week:

“The owner of a Taylorville, Illinois location violated the terms of our franchise agreement by hanging an unauthorized window display about the Governor’s decision to close dine-in service at restaurants statewide through March 30. Their disagreement with the Governor’s decision in no way represents our position. We stand with the Illinois Restaurant Association and the Governor in this difficult decision; we must work together and take extraordinary measures to halt the spread of COVID-19. All of our locations are working hard to implement new safety measures to provide for the well-being of our customers and employees. Regrettably, this one individual took an irresponsible approach. Because this franchise does not hold our values, we have terminated the franchise agreement effective immediately.”

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