PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Many restaurants are still recovering from pandemic-era problems. This week is "Arizona Restaurant Week" and dozens of restaurants around the state are offering up some great deals. One restaurant owner in Phoenix talked to Arizona's Family about their ongoing struggles.

This years "Arizona Restaurant Week" comes after one of the hardest years in many restaurants history. On top of shutdowns and limits on customers, the owner of Aiello's was in the hospital for six months with COVID.

COVID saw restaurants implement new policies, such as masks and lower customer capacities, but some restaurants were also forced to close their doors.

Joe Aiello wasn't around during many of the COVID changes restaurants experienced because he was in the hospital fighting it himself. "I was in the ICU for three months. I was in a coma for months," Aiello told Arizona's Family.

In all, Aiello was in the hospital for six months, leaving his wife Myrah to run their restaurants. "My wife, who also had COVID, came out of the hospital early on and ran all three of our businesses here on Thunderbird" said Aiello.

The couple owns Aiello's East Coast Italian, Isa's Pizza and Charr, their American burger bar which they had to close due to the virus. "So many people I know in this business are hurting. COVID destroyed us, just destroyed us," he added.

Now that they're back in action, the family business is facing a new challenge. Aiello said they can't find anyone to work for them and they're doing what they can.

"Take a salary cut. You gotta cut it lean, you can't be doing what you were doing before. You can't be making what you were making before" said Aiello.

Aiello said the best way for you to help is to support your restaurants because they need it now more than ever. Arizona Restaurant Week is running through Sept. 17 to Sept. 26th. For more information and a list of restaurants participating, click here.


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