West Reading Restaurants Pivot, Reinvent Themselves during Pandemic

Since August 2012, Say Cheese! Restaurant has been a popular fixture on Penn Avenue in West Reading. Featuring accommodating hosts and waitstaff, cheery 1950s decor, and a mouth-watering Americana-inspired menu, Say Cheese! quickly became a favorite restaurant in Berks County that filled a unique culinary niche.

Owner Adam Cocuzza, whose family also owns Nitro Bar and the West Reading Motor Club, is proud of the work that has gone into expanding Say Cheese! over the last eight years.

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Until the beginning of quarantine in March of this year, the restaurant was also home to an artisanal market, where customers could shop for delicious cheeses, jams, and other edible delights.

Photo by Say Cheese!

In 2021, the market will be opening in it’s own location next door to the restaurant at 602 Penn Avenue, and will offer an expanded selection of quality, hand-crafted goods.

The pandemic presented a unique set of challenges to Cocuzza and his family. ​

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“Once the two weeks [of the original quarantine orders in March] were up and the state continued restrictions, my family made the decision to start working on 602 Penn Avenue, trying to get the marketplace set,” C​ ocuzza said.

“​We decided to be as safe as possible and [keep the restaurant] closed, but we took advantage of the time and started construction next door.”

Despite being re-opened for only one month when the additional restrictions were imposed on restaurants as of last week, Say Cheese! has pivoted flawlessly to respect all safety protocols while still providing delicious dining. ​

“We’ll be focusing on takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining,” ​said Cocuzza. “​We’re even building a little enclosure on our vestibule to accommodate a heater to make it more comfortable for our outdoor guests.”

Say Cheese! is located at 600 Penn Avenue in West Reading.

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Emily Fitzpatrick Kenniston
Emily Fitzpatrick Kennistonhttp://berksweekly.com/author/emily.kenniston
I cover news on small businesses and local events.
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