Antonio's commercial by owner takes aim at lawmakers while asking for job applicants

It is a commercial that will get your attention - the owner of Antonio's restaurants not mincing words talking about the problems his restaurants are having because of Covid.

But he tells us, there is much more than this 30-second spot you see on TV that asks for people to apply to work there, and calls out lawmakers.

"Hello, Tony Ruggiero, when Covid impacted our lives months ago, my family and staff promised to do our part to feed the community," he says in the commercial. "Today we face another challenge, as many restaurants close their doors never to open again, we are faced with the problems of finding help. Our lawmakers continue to make it easy to stay home and collect unemployment rather than go to work. At Antonio's and Roman Village, we believe a loyal workforce creates a strong family and strong community - which we are blessed to have. Please join our family."

Ruggiero says the commercial is not intended to be negative or political.

"It's intended to bring attention to a problem that is happening to everybody," said Anthony Ruggiero, president and CEO Antonio's and Roman Village Corporations. 

As we stood in Antonio's Italian Restaurant location in Canton Wednesday, customers said they were coming in because of that commercial.

"We could use a great deal of staff maybe 50 or 60 employees between all our locations," he said.

Ruggiero says they started with a full-page wanted and got barely any applicants.

"Some of the responses we did get, they didn't even show up for the interview," Ruggiero said. 

He candidly took to television referring to the extended COVID-19 unemployment benefits. 

Admittedly, it garnered some criticism saying to FOX 2 the bottom line is this: "We need to figure out a better way to put people back to work in a safe environment," he said.

This family has been in business 56 years and has five locations, clawing their way back from a 60 percent decline in sales.

The COVID-19 numbers are not promising in the last couple of weeks. Ruggiero said he is living by the phrase etched on their building.  

"It is just - 'Tiriamo Avanti' - always move forward," he said. "Don't give up."