On May 28th, a car ran into Leona’s Pizzeria and Restaurant—an Italian restaurant located next to Hyde Park Produce on East 53rd Street. The impact caused extensive damage to the store, including broken windows, damage to the bottom base and ceiling, lights, sound system, and a few tables.
Only the person driving the car was injured, although several witnessed the event. According to Luis Gutierrez, the general manager of Leona’s Pizzeria, she was elderly and was taken to the hospital by ambulance following the crash.
“It seems that the driver pressed the gas instead of the brakes when she was trying to park her car,” Gutierrez said. “A few of our employees, the plaza security guards, and the people in line waiting to have access to the business next to us [Hyde Park Produce] all witnessed the event. It was a traumatic experience; we never saw anything like it before.”
Leading up to the event, Leona’s Pizzeria was working as a pickup and delivery service because of restrictions in place due to COVID-19. Due to the accident, they stopped business for the rest of the day; the restaurant has since resumed their delivery service, but still is still experiencing limitations.
“We are unable to use the restaurant [sic] damaged area,” Gutierrez said. “We are working without A.C., and we have no sound system to be ready when we reopen. We need to make sure the facility is safe for the customers as a whole.”
The restaurant is currently working on repairs. According to Gutierrez, they do not have a specific timeline for completion.