VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Flipping dough is something pizza shop owner, AJ Faik has done thousands and thousands of times over the past 12 years.

“I had to practice – a lot of practice. I had to go through a lot of dough,” Faik said.

Faik has been a bit out of practice since a fire ripped through the restaurant, Sal’s Pizzeria, in April of last year. The fire occurred as eateries everywhere were struggling through the pandemic.

“The pandemic really did put a dent in our financial statement, to say the least,” he told 10 On Your Side. 

Rebuilding would also take a bigger bite out of the budget as supply chain issues prolonged the process.

“It took us 14 months to rebuild, and in normal circumstances, probably would have taken us 6 months,” he explained.  

Faik used Facebook to share the progress, with loyal customers who came running as soon as they saw the open sign out front.

Terry Lucy, a regular customer, has missed small talk with these familiar faces. 

“Oh, yes, I’m here every week — sometimes twice a week!” He’s also missed the comfort food. ” The lasagna here – no one else can touch it. Any time I have a party, I get a tray and it’s mouthwatering!”

Community support and a kind landlord kept Faik going even when he had doubts.
“The flavor, and then listening to the story — the comeback – you know I’m all about those comebacks,” said customer Tim Hewitt.

For many on Pleasure House Road, coming back to the restaurant is like coming back home – and Faik is ready to welcome them.

“The food is still the same, the atmosphere is better.”