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Chatty's Pizzeria finds success in Bay Village as longtime chef for Michael Symon opens restaurant during the COVID pandemic

While many restaurants permanently closed due to COVID-19, Matthew Harlan decided to open his first restaurant.

BAY VILLAGE, Ohio — Chatty's Pizzeria is a brand new spot that has quickly become a town favorite in Bay Village. In their first week in business, they sold more than 700 pizzas, all hand-tossed and sauced by owner Matthew Harlan and his team. 

A great start to a venture at a time when starting a restaurant has never been tougher. 

"Scary and nervous are a couple of adjectives," Harlan said about opening a new restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic. "At the same time, very excited. The adrenaline is kind of pushing us through." 

Adrenaline and experience has helped Harlan launch Chatty's Pizzeria, his first-ever restaurant.  He has been a part of the Cleveland restaurant scene for more than 20 years working with celebrity chef Michael Symon during that time.

RELATED: 'Quarantine Confessions' with Chef Michael Symon

Most recently, Harlan worked as the corporate chef at Symon's B Spot restaurants. 

"I learned from him a lot: Patience, quality, doing things the right way and staying true to your vision," Harlan said of Symon. 

But last year when the pandemic hit and B Spot permanently closed, the vision for Harlan's career was left uncertain.

"Being out of work for three months was probably the worst three months of my life." 

What Harlan found during that time though was an opportunity to pursue a longtime dream of opening his own spot. A dream that might not have come about if it wasn't for the pandemic. 

"When I found out this location was available, I looked at my wife and said we gotta figure it out."

A blessing in disguise that Harlan said he hopes will blossom into the fabric of his hometown. 

"It was the little oomph that we needed. I hope this is my last job."

RELATED: Watch 'Save Our Sauce' documentary: Donate here to help restaurant workers in Northeast Ohio