Atef Amro's plastic Costco snowshoes came in handy over the long weekend.
To reach customers, the pizza deliveryman made a routine out of ditching his dark blue Suzuki Sidekick in the street and tackling the snow -- at least 16 inches in some places -- on foot, in his snowshoes.
Amro, who started driving for Big Joe's Pizza in Manassas almost eight years ago, said he encountered many customers who hadn't yet touched their driveways or sidewalks with a shovel. In some cases, Amro said customers hadn't even opened their front doors since the weekend's massive storm began early Sunday morning.
"It's funny, I'm struggling to get to the door," Amro said. "I do whatever I have to do. . . . I'm not taking the food back, so I just step on the snow and I get a little wet."
Despite the conditions, Amro and food delivery workers across the county found it well worth their while to stay open as they reported raking in up to three times the usual in tips during the worst of the weekend's storm.
Big Joe's Pizza manager and co-owner Bill Baaou said his drivers armed themselves with four-wheel-drive vehicles, shovels, extra windshield-washer fluid, cell phones and flashlights.
Baaou said some of his drivers even had to dig for address markers to determine whether they were at the right home or building. Others cleared customers' driveways with their shovels just to get to the front door, he said.
Most local restaurants, like businesses throughout the region, were closed. Delphine Luu, a manager at China Jade Seafood in Manassas, believes that her restaurant lost business because it was closed on Sunday and Monday. "We were stuck. We couldn't get out of our own homes," she said.
But Luu said her one driver was busy all day Tuesday delivering General Tso chicken and fried rice. "It was nonstop all day," she said.
Pizza Palace owner Mohammed Naeem said he didn't consider closing down his Woodbridge pizza delivery and carry-out restaurant.
Naeem replaced the usual Honda Accord used to deliver orders with his own Nissan Pathfinder. He took to the streets on Monday and, despite raising the minimum delivery order to $20, pulled in $172 in tips, he said. On a normal day, he earns about $60 in tips.
"We were cranking the last two days," Naeem said Tuesday.
Treacherous conditions caused Manassas Pizza Hut manager Wade Freidline to create a simple rule of thumb for his customers phoning in orders: If you can't get to us, then we can't get to you.
Freidline said that despite shortening his restaurant's delivery range and temporarily upping the minimum order to $20, he saw a steady business.
Lamia Mufarreh of Joe's Pizza and Subs on Grant Avenue in Manassas said customers reacted with glee after hearing her restaurant was open and delivering.
"People were very happy," she said. "It's like we were their lifesaver."