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Coronavirus Heroes Part 9: Dodo’s Pizza in need after serving the community

This is the ninth in the EAGLE’s 10-part Coronavirus Heroes series. Every weekend, a new Coronavirus Hero will be featured. This week’s Coronavirus Hero is Dodo Pizza, a local pizza joint, and its owner, Alena Tikhova.

Dodo Pizza has been committed to Oxford’s service industry workers since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, and now they’re in need of help themselves.

The owner of Dodo Pizza, Alena Tikhova, announced through Facebook this week that the pizzeria may no longer have a location to continue their business. Dodo Pizza’s five-year lease expires on July 1, 2020, and the new landlord wants them out, if the construction on the parking lot is any indication, she said. 

“We’ve been doing great in Oxford for five years now,” Tikhova said. “Our problem is that our building got sold, and the new owner doesn’t want to extend the lease. I’m considering a few options right now. Unfortunately, I can’t say who, because they have asked to respect their privacy while they are still in business.”

The building that houses Dodo Pizza was sold last year for what Tikhova described as a large sum of money. The new owners have voiced that they do not want a pizza place in that location, so they are unable to renew their lease.

“I wish we could (stay in the same location),” Tikhova said. “The new owner won’t do that. They are planning on putting new apartments or office space in there. Our location now is prime; they can make way more money off something else being there. I understand this decision from a business point of view.”

Right now, the only option for Dodo is to take over an existing restaurant that isn’t doing too great or is doing average. This could mean having to shift ownership between the two owners since they both have to make a living.

“I just want Dodo’s to be open and running in Oxford,” Tikhova said in a Facebook post. “We have 45,000 people in our customer database, our sales are up 55 percent from last year, with delivery alone being up by almost 70 percent. We show profit every single month of the year including the worst months which are December, June and July. If we can take over a restaurant and it isn’t a big chain, the chances of making significantly more in profit is close to 100 percent.”

As far as location goes, Tikhova said Dodo Pizza is looking for a place that is close to the Square and also close to the University of Mississippi campus.

“We’re in the delivery and carryout business,” Tikhova said. “Dine-in isn’t really our cup of tea, but we’ve been known for late-night walk-ins. An ideal spot is somewhat close to the Square and, most importantly, campus for deliveries. If it gets some after bar closes foot traffic then that is perfect. We also need at least eight to 10 parking spots for our drivers and carryout customers.”

For Tikhova, the question of whether or not her team at Dodo is made up of heroes is no question at all – they are, without a doubt. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dodo has been a staging ground for supporting Oxford’s service industry workers.
The team established a pantry, stocked with food and other essential items ranging from toilet paper to diapers and more, all free for those in need.
“I think my crew are heroes for real,” Tikhova said. “They have been collecting donations for other restaurant employees, running and organizing the pantry. All of that on top of working in the hot kitchen wearing masks, running in and out of the store to do curbside and dealing with a crazy demand. We didn’t close even for a day during pandemic, and they pulled it all off without any complaints. In my eyes they are heroes.”