John’s Pizza, a legendary, family-owned pizza and sub shop at 8 Central Ave., will celebrate its 35th anniversary on Sunday, March 17, 2013 with a special event.
On that day, Michael Falzone, owner of the business, will roll back the price of a whole pizza to $2.50 – the same price as it was 35 years ago. John Falzone, Michael’s father and the original owner who is living in California, will be on hand to greet customers.
Local dignitaries including City Manager Jay Ash and State Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty, who will present Michael Falzone with a congratulatory citation, are expected to attended the celebration.
Ash, who grew up on Cottage Street and attended the Shurtleff School located across the street from John’s Pizza, has been a loyal and satisfied customer since John Falzone opened his pizza shop in 1978.
“I’ve had thousands of slices of pizza at John’s and have never been disappointed,” said Ash. “As good as the pizza has always been, John and now his son, Mike, have been even better for the community. John’s is a real Chelsea treasure and a great example of how vital small businesses are to our community’s vitality.”
The 47-year-old Falzone, who holds a degree in Electronic Engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology, left a high-level position at an oceanographic company to take over John’s Pizza in 1991.
“My father had called me and I decided to give up my career as an engineer and take over the business,” said Falzone.
John’s Pizza has grown and prospered under the leadership of Falzone, who is the face of the business.
What’s been the foundation to the success and longevity of John’s Pizza?
“Keeping everything simple,” said Falzone. “I’ve kept my dad’s original recipes – buying ripe tomatoes from California, a blend of part skim and whole milk, mozzarella cheese that we still grind and make fresh daily. We make our own dough every day. It’s been old-fashioned values and recipes.
“To be successful in a small business, you have to be personable, have a good relationship with your employees and treat them like family and you have to be involved in your community and give back,” he said.
Falzone feels his staff has been instrumental in the shop’s success.
“Over the years, we’ve tried to hire all Chelsea people,” said Falzone. “We’ve had several long-time employees (Kathy Bartlett, Judy Ford, and Lynn Smith) here. Nicole Doucette has been with us for 14 years. I’ve had family members working here.”
Falzone prides himself on owning the family-run pizza shop that has existed in Chelsea for the longest period of time.
What have been the most popular choices on the pizza and sub menu for the past 35 years?
“One of our most popular pizzas is the Michael Special, which is roasted peppers and egg plant pizza; the Gianni’s Favorote which is the buffalo wings pizza, the meat lovers and the Hawaian are big sellers – but the most popular is our pepperoni which is neck and neck with our cheese pizza.”
He lists chicken parmigiana, eggplant parmigiana, and steak and cheese as the most popular submarine sandwiches.
Falzone has given back much to the community through his own personal involvement in local organizations and generous financial contributions to groups.
He is past president of the Rotary Club of Chelsea and received the Rotarian of the Year Award. He was honored as the “Businessperson of the Year” by the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, of which John’s Pizza’s is a member.
He has served on the board of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club and Centro Latino and is a big supporter of the Chelsea Collaborative Explorer Post 109. He has sponsored youth sport teams and the CHS athletic program.
Falzone has seen a generation of customers walk through his doors.
“I’ve seen kids literally grow up from toddlers (at the nearby John Silber Early Learning Center) to high school students,” said Falzone, who was born and raised in Revere.
Falzone, who is married to Jessica Bowen, has three sons, Gianni, 21, a student at UMass Lowell, Nicholas, 19, a student at Middlesex Community College heading to UMass/Lowell, and Christian, 14, a student at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School.
City Councilor Leo Robinson and his wife, Linda Alioto-Robinson, will spend part of their 28th wedding anniversary at John’s Pizza.
“We want to stop in and see John and Michael and tell them how they have meant to the Chelsea community,” said Robinson. “Their pizza is delicious and I’ve been going there for the past 35 years. But I want Michael to know how much the community appreciates his business being there and him giving back to our community in so many ways.”
As Michael Falzone looks back at his successful career as a restaurant owner, he holds a special place in his heart for his father and the tireless work ethic that he inherited from him.
“Even though I’ve owned pizza longer than he has, I still do not have the number of hours that he put in,” said Falzone. “Those days of working seven days a week, 14 hours a day – I really respect my dad for all those long hours.”