After a car slammed into his pizza stand in Echo Park, the owner of Nico’s Pizza on Sunday asked community members for help bringing back his family business.

The owner, Nicolas Valerio-Rodríguez, said it all happened so fast. 

He recalled a car approaching at a high rate of speed on Sunset Boulevard and crashing into his trailer. He described seeing his stepson being thrown several feet from the impact of the collision around 9 p.m. Saturday.

“It was a big hit,” Valerio-Rodríguez said, pointing towards skid marks on the roadway near his damaged pizza oven.

The owner was packing a fresh pie to the side of the van and wasn’t injured when the car came barreling through. 

His stepson suffered injuries all over his body and was rushed to the emergency room in serious condition. Another person was also badly hurt in the crash, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Valerio-Rodríguez and his family were left jobless because of the pandemic, so they poured all their savings into setting up the small business, he said. 

“I’m so sad because I lost everything,” he said. “I worked so hard, so many years to save my money, try do my own business — but now it’s gone.”

A former restaurant cook, Valerio-Rodríguez had honed the craft of making pizzas and he created his own recipes. He described how happy it made him to see customers stop by his stand for a pepperoni or Italian sausage pizza. 

“My dream was gone yesterday,” Valerio-Rodríguez said.

He hopes community members will chip in to help him buy a new trailer and repair the pizza oven, which now has a crack in it.  A GoFundMe page was created to help bring back the pizza stand.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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