The last two years have been incredibly difficult for small business, and like many of their kin, Bathurst pizzeria Vic's Fat Pizza has had to work around staff availability, rising supply costs and an uncertain economic outlook.
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But there's one thing the challenges haven't dampened: the resolve of the pizzeria's staff to ensure everyone who walks through the door is greeted with a kind greeting and a great deal.
Vic's Fat Pizza owner Vic Issa says while the challenges facing small, local businesses are real and pressing, they should never get in the way of looking after customers.
"Our supply costs have skyrocketed in the past month. Some products have risen as much as 30 per cent- the pizza flour, the cheese, the ham, the boxes- it all adds up," Mr Issa said.
"But with that said, we are trying to keep a budget that's both affordable for our customers and sustainable for our business. If there was no way we could find a balance between both, we'd close the door."
While times have been tough, Mr Issa said the business has maintained resilience off the back of a dedicated roster of staff.
"Our staff have been incredible throughout the entire pandemic. We're very lucky to have such a loyal team," he said.
"They've kept our business going, and Rhonda [Davis, manager] in particular has done a stellar job keeping the team together, she's the most loyal person I've ever had run a business for me."
Since he first came in 1974, Mr Issa has called Bathurst his spiritual home, even with sizeable stints living in Melbourne and Queensland.
"I lived in Melbourne for nearly 20 years, but ended up coming back to Bathurst This place has always been good to me," he said.
"There's nothing like Bathurst as far as family and community is concerned, and every time I've come back, business has soared. This town is so supportive."
Mr Issa has owned Vic's Fat Pizza since 2015, with the business standing tall against the frantic rush of the Stewart Street traffic.
With a number of decades working in the pizza game, Mr Issa said his passion continues to be fuelled by the challenge every day throws at him.
"I've been doing this over 20 years now, working through bistros initially and eventually into pizzerias, and it's simply a job I've found myself well-accustomed to," he said.
"I love coming into work each day to see who'll walk in the door. Everyone gets treated equally and fairly, regardless of where they're coming from.
"It's not just about 'here's your pizza, thank you very much', you have to find time to start a conversation with your customers, because you need them to know they feel valued and appreciated."
The business has produced plenty of kind community gestures in the past to show that 'dough' isn't their sole motivation, having provided food for the homeless and even health workers who administered COVID-19 vaccines at walk-in clinics during last year's vaccination drive.
"It's in my nature, I love to help," Mr Issa said.
"If people come in short a dollar or two, I don't think twice about it, the way I see it, I've done my good deed for the day."
Mr Issa said there's so much more to small business than simply 'business', which is why he fosters an engaging workplace environment and a strong work-life balance among staff.
"We've gone back to opening Tuesday to Saturday, which has worked well as it has allowed our staff to take more consistent breaks after what has been a difficult couple of years," he said.
"There's more to live than working seven days a week, and the way I see it, my staff are as much the face of the business as I am, so you have to look after them.
"One hand can't clap, but many hands make a lot of noise."
Vic's Fat Pizza is located at 261B Stewart Street and opens 4pm to 9pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
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