Jan’s Village Pizza Finds Unique Way to Thrive
Photographer / Kerch Creative
There are many stories about businesses affected negatively by the coronavirus pandemic, but when your customers and employees are your family, you will do just about anything to find a way to keep your business open and try to make the situation positive.
Kim Kercheval, owner of Jan’s Village Pizza, which is generally considered Westfield’s hometown pizza restaurant, experienced the disbelief that plagued many small store owners when a shutdown was mandated for non-essential businesses earlier this year. She found inspiration in putting her focus on her customers, and turned a challenge into a way to connect with those customers.
Kercheval and her husband Bryan have owned the restaurant since 2016, and the restaurant has existed in the same building since it opened in 1997.
“When we bought the restaurant, we knew we had a great product – we did change the decor, and we invested in our community and our customers,” she says.
Kercheval’s philosophy has been to treat customers and employees like family. As such, closing the dining room was more than just a loss of income.
Fortunately for the staff, Jan’s Village Pizza has an established carry-out and delivery business in place. However, finding a way to convert the loss of connection with her customers inside the restaurant was hard to overcome – but when families go through tough times they rally together and find a way to help each other. When Kercheval posted an inspirational idea online, she did not know how people would respond. That’s when she learned just how much her business means to her customers.
The inspiration involved creating pizza kits for customers to make at home. She wasn’t sure what the response would be, so she decided to test the idea out with customers via social media.
“Our customers overwhelmed us with support,” she says. “I went from terrified and worried, to all of a sudden excited and humbled by the response.”
As a way to stay connected to her customers, she asked everyone to take a photo of themselves with their kit, to see the joy on their faces. Each kit contains a pre-made pizza crust, sauce, cheese and toppings along with instructions. The idea was a huge success, and the restaurant continues to sell the kits.
Photos began flooding Kercheval’s email inbox, after which it occurred to her why she could never figure out what to do regarding the decor in her party room.
“I realized the pictures of our family were meant for those walls,” she says.
Today, the wall is completely covered, and with the restaurant able to seat customers at 75% capacity, Jan’s Village Pizza feels more like home every day.
“We are just so blessed by this community,” Kercheval says.
Visit the Jan’s Village Pizza Westfield location at 108 South Union Street.