Zach Wheeler Good Neighbor

Zach Miller, at right, picks up pizzas from Theresa Lirot, of the Fountain City Ice House, on West Mulberry Street in Bryan. Miller said it’s more important than ever during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to support locally owned business, especially restaurants like Ice House.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to be a good neighbor. It’s more than just a marketing phrase for Bryan-based State Farm agent Zach Miller, it’s something he tries to puts it into practice regularly, such as Feb. 9 when he purchased four pizzas for his office staff from Fountain City Ice House Pizza in Bryan.

It’s all about supporting local businesses that have been hit by COVID-19 and the resulting state restrictions on their operations that make being a locally owned small business even more challenging, Miller said recently.

“This is something we’ve been trying to do, especially in the last 10 months (of the COVID-19 pandemic), supporting local businesses and our local restaurants. We started going to local restaurants and getting gift certificates for our customers, and it just kind of took off from there,” said Miller, who in May 2018 took over as owner and agent at the State Farm insurance office on West Main Street in Bryan.

Besides, Miller said, Feb. 9 was National Pizza Day.

“We had a ‘virtual’ pizza party and partnered with Fountain City Ice House for National Pizza Day,” Miller said, adding with a laugh he purchased four large pizzas for his five-person office.

“We shared them with our customers, and some people took some home,” he said.

Theresa Lirot, co-owner with husband Scott of Fountain City Ice House, 110 W. Mulberry St., said she valued the support.

“We appreciate him for thinking of us. And it was nice to hear they love our (pizza),” Lirot said.

In March, Fountain City Ice House will celebrate 26 years of being locally owned and in the same location. Lirot said COVID has impacted the local business by about 20%, so the community’s support is key to help Ice House weather the pandemic.

“It’s not easy being a small business and competing with the national franchises. They can buy in bulk and advertise (nationally). But we think we give people a great product, everything on our pizzas is fresh and homemade,” Lirot said.

Miller is also involved in the community with the Williams County Cops and Kids program and other initiatives and said he hopes others in the local community are inspired to continue to support local businesses.

“I love helping people, whether it’s through my business when I’m able to help my clients, or in the community and businesses like Ice House,” he said.

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