Pizza is temporarily off the menu at Mercer Cafe in the Navy Yard after chef Thomas Woltjen broke his hand.
Following the accident, which general manager and co-owner Liza Bello said happened last week while Woltjen was unloading groceries for the restaurant, the staff decided to stop selling pizza until they could come up with a solution. The cafe also will not have dinner service this week, she said, but will stay open for breakfast and lunch.
“We want to make sure we can maintain the same quality of pizza,” Bello said. “We’ll bring it back as soon as possible, but we don’t want to rush into anything.”
It was the second time in two weeks for a Mercer employee to break a hand, Bello said.
“So it wasn’t a good week for this,” Bello said.
The restaurant is known primarily for its brick-oven pizza, and Bello said the cafe was just starting to gain momentum and a loyal following of customers who have been enjoying the outdoor patio. Last weekend, the establishment hosted several pre-arranged private parties and had to serve food from the non-pizza portions of the menu, such as pastas and salads.
“Everyone was very understanding, and we hope they will continue to be,” Bello said. “We feel awful about this and we apologize to our customers.”
Bello said they will reassess the situation once Woltjen gets a sense of his level of mobility.
Injuries are a common job hazard when it comes to restaurants, which are filled with sharp objects, complex machinery and high temperatures. In May 2017, Joe Cicala, then the chef at Le Virtu and Brigantessa, nearly lost his left hand when it got caught in a pasta machine.