After Sicily native Salvatore “Sam” LoMedico emigrated to Detroit in 1939, he worked in the restaurant/bar biz with is brother—and knew immediately that he wanted to open
his own place. Finally, after starting a family, serving in the military
and migrating to sunny San Diego, he realized his dream in June
1954, opening Venice Pizza house (venicepizzahouse .com) . The
italian restaurant served up a simple menu with a few pizzas,
pastas and sandwiches (including many recipes culled from the
family archives), and Sam worked 15-hour days alongside his
wife, Prudie, making sure customers were satisfied . “They never
advertised, relying only on word-of-mouth,” says Bill LoMedico,
general manager and Sam’s grandson. “To this day, our advertising budget is zero.”
Sam retired after 17 years in the business and eventually passed
away, but the family atmosphere of the pizzeria and an obsessive attention to customers kept business booming. Today,
Bill’s father, Sam’s son-in-law, makes meatballs and homemade
sausage daily (“he’s a machine!” laughs Bill) while Bill’s mother
hosts and his sister regularly visits to check on the business.
Meanwhile, customers and employees alike have become de
facto family; regulars make up a large percentage of the business, and many workers have been with the restaurant for more
than five years . “i sincerely want to know what’s going on in our
customers’ lives, and i love when they’re happy,” Bill says. “When
they come in, we know their names and where they want to sit,
and our portions are like you’d get at your parents’ house. Our
family atmosphere always came naturally.”
Like many historic pizzerias, Venice Pizza house strives to
maintain the delicate balance between tradition and innovation.
With today’s fiercer competition, Bill actively attracts a younger
clientele through Facebook and Yelp while catering to regulars
who have come to expect the restaurant’s quality and consistency over the decades. Meanwhile, the 60th anniversary next
year will usher in a new logo and minor renovations to freshen up
the restaurant’s decidedly old-school interior. “Overall, we’re just
proud we’ve been able to please our customers for this length
of time,” Bill says . “We don’t do anything spectacular—we just do
everything well . ” —Tracy Morin
This family-run pizzeria
has evolved from a Sicilian
immigrant’s dream to a
San Diego success story.
Has your pizzeria been in business for 50 or more years?
If so, contact us at email@example.com.
(Top to bottom) Sam (second from left) poses with his family, who
pitched in during the restaurant’s early days; Tom, Joe and Jimmy
LoMedico share a few laughs at work; Venice Pizza House has
been drawing in customers for nearly 60 years.