PELHAM, N.Y. For more than 30 years Pelham Pizzeria and Ristorante on Fifth Avenue has been about family.
Gino Ruffolo and his brother John opened the shop in 1978 and today it is run by Johns son, also named John, and nephew Pino Mancini of Eastchester.
The elder John Ruffolo died in 1988 and Gino passed away in 2009. The younger John Ruffolo lives in Yonkers but has worked in his father's store since 2002 and is now a manager. Though many years have passed since the store opened, Mancini said consistency of the workers has kept customers coming through the door.
"You can leave and come back ten years later and the same people are here," Mancini said.
The Ruffolo clan has kept the business in the family, but that family is not limited to those related by blood. The workers also include customers in that group.
"We're a family-oriented place," Ruffolo said. "My father and uncle made everybody feel like family."
The pizzeria still uses the original recipes that Ruffolo's father and uncle created. That adherence to tradition has kept the consumer base consistent.
"We have a lot of very loyal patrons," Ruffolo said. "Some have come in here since they were kids."
Ruffolo has made some adjustments to his pizzeria as time has passed. The store offers a reverse pizza pie and Italian dishes other than pizza. The managers said the pizzeria often tries to promote the restaurant portion of its business through distribution of menus and word-of-mouth.
The plan has worked to a degree. Ruffolo said new residents of Pelham often patronize his restaurant.
"Whoever moves in finds their way here," Ruffolo said.
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