Colorado small business owner talks pizza, pandemic and the public option for healthcare

Jeff Rogoff

Why shop small? Because $0.67 of every dollar you spend at a small business gets invested back into the community. For Jeff Rogoff, owner of Sazza in Greenwood Village, Colo., this philosophy holds true. At Sazza, not only are the pizza toppings and cheeses locally sourced but so is the silverware, tables, glassware and branded merchandise. 

“Being mindful of our community, working with our community and being a part of our community is all very important to us,” Jeff says.

In 2004, Jeff was working as a bar manager when he and his wife learned they were expecting their first child. For the new father, entrepreneurship was a way for him to provide and make his own hours to accommodate his family. Now, 17 years later, Jeff’s two boys are helping keep his restaurant above water by taking shifts during the pandemic. 

Jeff’s vision was to put a healthy and local twist on an American favorite—pizza. Over the years, he has built his business into his local community by working with local farmers and suppliers to get fresh and organic ingredients for his menu.

Not only does the restaurant owner feel a sense of responsibility to give back to his community, which has supported him throughout the years and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to his employees—some of whom have been at the restaurant for 14 years. 

Jeff’s top priority throughout the public health crisis has been keeping his employees safe. Luckily, Sazza already had delivery systems in place and people were used to the idea of ordering pizza to go. The federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and state and local grants that Jeff received allowed him to equip his patio space and part of the parking lot for outdoor dining and expand his delivery service, and he expects his second round Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to carry him through the summer. Despite the state allowing restaurants to open for indoor dining, Jeff’s staff was not comfortable with the idea until February. When he opened his dining room for the first time after nearly nine months, he was grateful to see his highest profits since November. 

Jeff says, “I never thought about the responsibility of being a business owner before I started a business. It gives you a platform and the ability to speak out as a leader in your community.”

Over the years, Jeff has worked with Small Business Majority to advocate for policies that support small employees, such as, the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Plan, and, most recently, a Colorado public healthcare option. 

In his testimony in support of the Colorado Health Insurance Option, Jeff says, “This last year has been extremely devastating to so many, especially to those who own or work for a small business. As a small business owner myself, I’m particularly worried about my employees because I think of them as an extension of my family. Taking care of them and building a strong, healthy workforce is one of my top priorities, but rising healthcare costs and out-of-pocket expenses have made it nearly impossible for us small employers to afford quality healthcare for our employees.”

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