Monday, December 9, 2013
Staff Photo by Derek Davis: Tony Regios, left, and his brother Phil own Pizza Villa in Portland, which their father opened in 1965. Photographed Monday, Feb. 23, 2009.
A: Oh, off and on for many years. I went away to college, (Boston University), did some other things, let's see. I've been married since 1985, so, oh gosh, consecutively, about 25 years, I'd say.
Q: How do you guys divide up the work?
A: We fall into our natural niches. I do the business end, the bookkeeping and so forth. Phil is very convivial, kind of more the ''face'' of Pizza Villa; people are more apt to know him. Andy manages and does everything. We all manage; we're all working managers. There's usually an ''owner in the store,'' and when you're open from 11 a.m. until 1 at night, there are a lot of hours to go around.
It has its ups and downs, like anything, any time you take a family and put it in a business environment. But the positives far outweigh the negatives. Being able to rely on each other reduces the stress. Actually, Phil's wife (Cathy) and my wife (Sandra) both tend a shift a week at the bar.
Q: How many people work for you?
A: Ah, give me a minute the exact number we have a lot of part-time people, and a lot of times when people go on to other jobs, they still like to hang on to a shift here. Including family, we have 19 people on the payroll. Some people have been here a long time. Ricky Roberts has worked here for 20-plus years. We consider him a fourth partner.
Q: So, you've been in business since 1965, when Falcone's Market left the building after seven years.
A: Before that, it was a shoe store. The building has a long history, over 100 years.
Q: How'd you get started?
A: My parents, Mike and Connie, came in in 1965. When my father retired, fairly early, in 1975, it was Phil who took over. We've grown. At one point, in 1976, we purchased Paul's Spa next door and punched a hole through to where the bar is now.
It's really kind of a neighborhood place. Some people come for food, others for the bar, and a lot for both. It's not inaccurate to call it a Cheers-type environment, not that we tout ourselves as that.
We have a lot of people who've been coming for years, and a lot of people who've moved out of state make this a stop when they visit, come in to say hello.
Q: What did your dad do before?
A: My father had come to this country from northern Greece when he was 40, I think. He was a tailor. But when he had three young kids, and knew that you can sew only so fast, he was looking for a way to augment his income. He knew pizza was in demand, so he decided to try it. He had a tailor shop in Woodfords, near where the IGA used to be, and when he opened here, he used to sew until 4 in the afternoon, then come here. He was a worker.
Q: Do you have a Web site?
A: No. We've kicked the idea around from time to time, but at this point we don't see a huge advantage. We may get around to it. It's not real high priority for us.
Q: Have your pizzas always been the same size?
A: We've always stuck to the 10-inch. The recipe's evolved a little bit, but we never went to a size large, for logistical reasons. It's a small kitchen with a limited capacity. We also thought the 10-inch was a superior product anyway. The big pies can get droopy and gooey. Ours tend to be a little spicier, a little crisper. We do get a lot of kids here, but we don't cater to them with a kids pizza, which tends to be doughy and cheesy.
Q: Have the Sea Dogs been good for you?
A: Definitely, we've gotten a bump off them, and of course from the Expo, which is nearby. All the local sporting events help.
Q: How much did a pizza cost when you opened?
A: Sixty cents. And at the time that was considered to be pricey. Back in 1965 there weren't nearly the number of pizza places there are now; corner stores didn't sell pizza the way they do now. It was Angelone's, the Sportman's and us, and Angelone's sold pizzas for 50 cents, so people thought we were pricey. Right now a cheese pizza is $6.29. That's a pre-tax item.
Q: What's the most popular pizza?
A: What's very popular is one we call a special, but it's been up so long it's become a menu item. It's the garlic chicken pizza. The chicken is sauteed and garlic is added and it's mixed up with feta and chopped spinach. It's a variety of Greek pizza.
Back in the day tastes were more simple. Every other pizza was a pepperoni. We've added all kinds of toppings over the years and now they're more exotic, with things like pineapple. It's like the draft beer. We used to have Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap, Bud Light. It's expanded so that customers have many more choices.
Q: Any celebs ever come in?
A: Once in a blue moon. Off the top of my head years ago, Vince Neil (of Motley Crue) showed up one time. A little guy. He hung around the bar for three hours, after the roadies checked it out to make sure it was safe.
Q: What kind of pizza did he order?
A: He just drank Absolut vodka. He sat and drank and didn't get hassled. He was nice, just a customer. I called him Mr. Neil.
Q: Crue is coming to town again next month.
A: He probably doesn't remember us. Some athletes come in because of the Sea Dogs connection. (Jacoby) Ellsbury's been in here. Mike Bordick's been in a couple of times. Back in the day, Dave Cowens used to show up once in a while. Don Nelson. But that was quite a few years ago.
Years ago my father told me Johnny Carson stopped in. A kid who was at a camp in Maine was in here and said his father was Johnny Carson. My father said yeah, sure. So the kid went outside and got him and Johnny Carson walked in. My father told him he used to watch the show, before he worked nights.
Q: What would you be doing in another life?
A: I'd probably be a professional athlete. They have a pretty sweet life. A hockey player. It's a highly skilled game.
Q: Anything you don't like, or would change?
A: I don't know. It's like any business that deals with the public. It's not a country club. But 99.9 percent of the people who come through the door are very nice.
We don't have a bouncer, no. We take care of things ourselves; there's almost never been a reason to make a call. It's something between a family restaurant and a sports bar. We want families to be comfortable, but you don't want people walking on eggshells, either.
I've been asked a million times, why don't you add another location, or open a place in Buffalo or Syracuse, or wherever people have moved to. But we're content running a business here. We're happy with what we have, making a comfortable living, and that's good enough.