Pizza restaurant frustrated with Highway 10 project

Pizza restaurant frustrated with Highway 10 project

Pizza restaurant frustrated with Highway 10 project

It’s pie-making time at Aurelio’s Pizza in Ramsey — but what’s not on the menu is right outside.

“Just kind of want to get the word out about the impact of how road construction can hurt a business,” declares co-owner Sara Stawski.

She says the Ramsey Gateway Project along Highway 10 is having a devastating impact on her restaurant, with customer numbers dropping 40%, compared to last year.

On a good night, Stawski says 140 people might come to dine in her establishment — now, she says ruefully, it might be one-quarter that number.   

“It’s just disappointing and scary, being this is my family’s lifeline, and me and my dad co-own, and this is how we pay our bills,” she says. “When we can’t pay our bills here, we can’t pay ourselves.”

The restaurant has been at its current location for about five-and-a-half years.

The Stawski’s started operating Aurelio’s in Roseville in 1985, before moving to Ramsey.

Fast-forward to the present day and the difficulties it brings.

“Just the road construction, it’s real hard to get in here, to get around,” notes co-owner Randy Stawski. “Most of the people that come here, they drive by two or three times before they figure out to go to Ramsey and do a U-turn before they come back down to Thurston, so it’s an extra couple of miles out of your way just to come in here.”

The only access to the restaurant’s plaza is along westbound Highway 10.

Customers say the one-way traffic tends to move at up to speeds of 50 miles per hour.

A large, colorful sign highlighting businesses in the plaza has been replaced with a smaller ‘business access’ sign.

“I think when we used to come, you saw the big signs out, and all of those signs have been taken down by construction,” says Cathy Jo Tastsides, a longtime customer. “I think that hurts.”

Sunfish Lake Boulevard, a popular back entrance to the restaurant, is now blocked off.

There’s a large construction site right next door.

Sara Stawski says normally on a busy night, the restaurant might see between 40-50 people on the patio outside, but because of noise and dust, customers aren’t using it.

“Just with the dust in your food, people are turned away, so we’re not able to use it as much,” she explains.

Stawski says after making inquiries, she received several emails from construction coordinators and the City of Ramsey that were sympathetic to her plight.

One of them explained details about a digital ad campaign to raise awareness — that impacted Ramsey businesses are still open and accessible.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to both construction coordinators and a City of Ramsey spokesperson but did not hear back.  

Stawski says she hopes by speaking out, potential customers will be reminded that that despite the construction, her restaurant is still open for business.

And, she’s hoping someone can help.

“People just say, ‘We understand you’re struggling, but there’s really nothing they can do,’” Stawski says. “It’s just really a tough time right now. We’re kind of hoping that like how with COVID, there was some stimulus or something, a grant that they would be able to give the businesses that are struggling as hard as we are.”