Pandemic pressures force closure of PizzaPapalis in Greektown

Other PizzaPapalis locations remain open
Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 20:07:56-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — In Greektown, PizzaPapalis has been a destination.

“It is distinct pizza. And there is no other place in town to get that style of pizza,” Ryan Collins, a PizzaPapalis fan, said.

The restaurant put its own spin on Chicago-style pizza, which is time consuming to make.

“I remember coming when I was little with my parents. The pizza does not come right away, so you have to wait. But it is time you wait with your family and friends and when the pizza comes, it is a good time,” Collins said.

“It has been a whirlwind of emotions,” founder and co-partner at PizzaPapalis Joe Sheena said.

On Monday, people walked through his Greektown location shopping for a piece of PizzaPapalis as Sheena said goodbye to that location.

He says business was strong in the large, two-story restaurant before the pandemic.

“And then all of a sudden, everything stopped,” he said.

He says there were arguments in the restaurant over masks, and staffing became a challenge.

“We couldn’t staff this place. We couldn’t do it,” he said.

He decided to focus on other locations with less square footage and more carryout traffic.

“Greektown will be a vibrant district again,” Yanni Dionisopoulos, of the Golden Fleece Restaurant, said.

Dionisopoulos wants people to know that despite hardships, there are also investments being made in Greektown.

His family opened the Golden Fleece more than 50 years ago and just renovated a convenience store next door, turning it into a Greek market, bakery and bar.

“You will find a variety of Greek deserts, Greek imports. We have the largest selection of Greek wine in Michigan,” Dionisopoulos said.

Back at PizzaPapalis Sheena says he wants people to know while one location is closing, his business is still open. There are still Michigan PizzaPapalis locations in Taylor, Southfield, Bloomfield Hills and on Jefferson in Detroit.

“In order for us to be a better company, sometimes you have to take a step backward to go forward,” Sheena said.