Local Story Included in Uplifting Canadian Book.

Authors Heather Down and Catherine Kenwell gathered stories from every province to illustrate the effects of COVID-19 and the ways in which ordinary Canadians are performing extraordinary acts of kindness during the pandemic.

Miramichi Pizza Delight restauranteurs, Brian Geneau and David Hale were featured in one of the stories for their efforts to lift the spirits of hospital staff, and assist in delivering groceries to locals. Read the full story below:

Deliveries Are Not Cancelled

By Heather Down with Brian Geneau and David Hale

Miramichi is a stunning New Brunswick city, boasting a picturesque river dividing the two previously named towns of Newcastle and Chatham. The now amalgamated city also boasts two Pizza Delight franchises, which are situated on opposite sides of the Miramichi River.

David Hale owns the franchise on the Newcastle side and Brian Geneau owns the one on the Chatham side. Although they may work on separate banks, these community-minded business owners bridged their thoughts and resources to create a plan to support the staff of the Miramichi Regional Hospital. 

The first week that things shut down because of the coronavirus, Brian mentioned to his wife over breakfast, “We’ve gotta do something.” 

In these uncertain times, surely the staff at the hospital would be feeling it the most. He phoned the hospital and the receptionist transferred him to the HR department. “Hi. My name is Brian and I’m from the Chatham Pizza Delight,” he began. “I’d like to do something. How about we feed your staff?”

Delighted, the woman on the other end of the line said, “Okay. So which floor?”

Brian responded, “No . . . no, no, no. Everybody from the person pushing the broom, swinging the hammer, changing the sheets. Everyone.”

“You do realize that is hundreds and hundreds of people?”

Brian didn’t know how many people there were, but it really didn’t matter because he just wanted to do something. With almost thirty years in the restaurant business, he knew that food equals joy. He had the food, so why not spread a little joy in hopes of increasing the morale of the hospital staff?

Brian called David, the other Pizza Delight franchisee owner in Miramichi. After explaining his idea, Brian asked, “Do you want to do this? Are you in?” Without hesitation he responded, “Yes, whatever we have to do.”

Brian figured he would make between fifty and sixty party-sized pizzas, which was a big but manageable task. However, that plan was thwarted by a subsequent call to the hospital.

“Jeez, I don’t know how to tell you this, Brian,” Charlene, the hospital representative, began. “We have a problem.”

“What’s the problem?” Brian asked.

“Because of health precautions, we cannot accept party pizzas. I am sorry.” Her voice trailed off.

“Well, what’s the solution?” Brian continued.

“I don’t want to take advantage of your kind offer . . .”

“No. What is it? What is it that you are saying?”

“The only way we could accept the pizzas would be if they were personal-sized pizzas.”

“We’ll do nine-inch individual pizzas then . . . yep, whatever you need.”

Each pizza would have to be self-contained to meet the obligatory requirements for the health and safety of the hospital staff.

Another hurdle was the various floors and shifts, night and day. Both pizza-joint owners got to work on a massive three-day process of making and delivering hundreds of individual pizzas. Making sure to provide food to the largest number of shift workers, they delivered them at different times of the day and night. All in all, about 700 pizzas made their way there.

After all, folks here pride themselves on looking after their neighbours. And hospital staff in a small town are basically on every block and every street, making them an integral part of the community, not only by virtue of their profession but also because they are someone’s neighbour, someone’s friend.

It felt good to help, but the feedback for both Brian and David was overwhelming. A friend of David’s, whose wife was a nurse, said, “Hey, listen, what you guys did for the hospital over there . . . you have no idea how much that pumped them up and how it lifted their spirits.”

A few days later, a hospital worker popped in to pick up a personal order at the Newcastle store. “Thank you very much for what you did. You went above and beyond,” he mentioned.

The emotional responses from grateful hospital workers didn’t stop. Statements of gratitude were an everyday occurrence. 

But that sense of community extended beyond just feeding the hospital staff. Brian knew he could do more. He called the manager of the local Sobeys. “Hey, are you doing deliveries right now?”

“No, unfortunately we don’t have the staff or means at the moment to offer deliveries.”

“Well, we have three drivers going here. Just offer it, and we’ll pick up and deliver the groceries to your customers for free.”

David, who has owned his Pizza Delight for “half a lifetime,” doesn’t see what this duo did as a grand gesture. Instead, he views it as merely the Canadian way, an attitude of looking out for one another, a sense of community. He feels that what he and Brian did was merely looking out for those people who were looking out for them.

 David Hale and Brian Geneau are Pizza Delight franchise owners in Miramichi, New Brunswick

Wintertickle Press offers 49 all-Canadian stories of spirit, humour, and kindness in its new publication Not Cancelled: Canadian Caremongering in the Face of COVID-19. The e-format edition was released on May 11, 2020, with the softcover to follow on June 5, 2020. The book can be purchased at: Chapters Indigo   

1 Comment

  1. Lokesh Kant on August 18, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    That’s Great. Keep it up.

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