A famous Salisbury pizza mascot was "killed" last month leaving the restaurant owner questioning the future of his business.

Pizza Venti, which opened on 2 November 2020, suffered the loss on 10 June after a customer leaned on Charlie, decapitating him and leaving a crack in the window.

Alex Popescu, owner of Pizza Venti, feels the pressure is mounting on his small family business and this extra cost is adding to the "snowball of death".

The estimated repair cost of the window is £3500, which could be covered by Alex's insurance, but he would have still have to pay £300 excess and expects his premium to increase by £1000 to £2000 a year.

He said: "I don't know about the future of my business. I've got to the point where I'm so demoralised that I don't know what to do anymore.

"It starts to make you question why you sacrifice so much to give a good experience to our guests."

Fears of bankruptcy

Starting up his business right before the second national UK lockdown, Alex has overcome many obstacles but says this is the toughest it's ever been.

"It starts to feel more and more like a process that's going to lead to bankruptcy, rather than a business that's going to grow," added Alex.

A new figure has appeared in Pizza Venti's window - Mario - who is much shorter than Charlie but still gets a good reaction from the children walking by. A smaller version of Charlie, who now stands on the bar, was also donated.

Salisbury Journal: Mario and a mini Charlie can be found inside Pizza VentiMario and a mini Charlie can be found inside Pizza Venti

The cost of living crisis has had an enormous impact on Pizza Venti. Alex said VAT is back to 20 per cent and his energy costs have increased by 250 per cent in six months. To help cover rising business costs, Alex has had to take a new mortgage on his home back in his home country. 

Alex is looking into his options as he is determined to get Charlie fixed since the figure means more to him than the loss of income. He added: “We consider Charlie a member of our team because he’s always been a good friend to all the kids. We're not giving up that easy."

Customers showed overwhelming support for the business on Facebook, with some users offering their help to fix Charlie.

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