Greco’s Pizza on Algonquin has been serving up its famous pizza pies for half a century.
No matter the occasion, North Bay residents continue to enjoy its freshly baked pizza which some refer to as a “slice of heaven.”
Emilio and Helen Arturi have been long time customers.
“I’ve been a customer here since I was a young woman, and I’m 74,” laughed Helen as she and her husband share a pizza.
“It is always delicious. This is where we come for our pizza, always Greco’s. It is like in Rome, it is delicious, it is moist. It is the best in town.”
Before serving pizza, the Greco family was making a different kind of dough.
“Before 1969 it was a bakery, opened in 1913 by the Greco family. Bread was delivered around the city using a horse drawn carriage. They then changed it into a pizzeria. There used to be a building here at this parking lot, the original pizzeria building, it burned down and they never rebuilt. It was one of the original locations” said Stephanie Trottier whose family took over the business in the late 70’s.
A celebration to honour the milestone anniversary was like a family reunion with family and friends spending time reminiscing.
“We thought we would have a little party to celebrate 50 years because that is quite an accomplishment in this city. It is just the Algonquin location. Our family has been at this location since 1978,” said Trottier.
Her father Terry Trottier was responsible for getting his family involved in the business.
“Greco’s pizza was opened in 1969 by Cecil Greco and he ran it for two years and then his oldest son Gary took it over. He was married to my sister. There was a Greco’s in Kapuskasing, and I was there from ’75 to ’78,” said Trottier.
“Gary wanted to open a chain in Ottawa, so I bought this store and off he went to Ottawa. I took over in August of ’78. I had it for 41 years. I’m retired now but my son Taylor owned it after me and he went to law school so now Stephanie, his sister, my daughter, is running it.”
The is no comparison between what the pizzeria looked like when the Trottier family took over the business and how it looks today.
“Originally there were no seats what-so-ever. You walked in the door about three feet, there was the counter and that was it,” explained Trottier.
“The right-hand corner right next to Demarco’s there was a room about 16 x 20 and they had four ovens in there. People had to duck. They did all their prep work at a remote location and brought it there. Then they moved to a building that used to be on this parking lot which burned down a few years ago,” said Trottier.
“The Demarco’s offered me this location which I really liked, so I renovated the building. When we gutted the place there were newspapers from the 1800’s in the walls. Unfortunately, I threw them all out.”
The Algonquin location has obviously grown over the years.
“We were only take out and delivery when we started. Then I had a small dining room with about 25 seats, after that we added the other 70 when we put the addition on,” said Trottier.
“I’m the last local guy standing. There used to be quite a few of us; the Cortina fella’s, La Piaza at the end of the street, they all moved on.”
Trottier says the secret to his success is offering a quality product.
“We use the best ingredients we can buy. The cost is there but people aren’t stupid. People know what they’re getting.”
His son Taylor Trottier is proud of his family’s legacy.
“I grew up in the restaurant. I started working here when I was about eight years old just helping with little things here and there. I worked here most of my adult life until very recently and it has always been a big part of our life,” Trottier reflected.
“So, it is very momentous to be here on a day like this.”
The family’s success has been based on the philosophy that the customer comes first in every decision, from top to bottom.
“In my opinion and from my experiences here, it is really about a customer first approach. It is about giving people quality and just making sure people are happy, making sure people are happy with your product, with your service and doing everything that you can to make sure of that. Things always come up, no business no person is perfect. But it is how you handle that and how you move forward that makes a difference” said Taylor.
Moving forward, that customer care and attention to detail will remain a top priority.
“We have plans for what we would like to see with our business moving forward, but for now it is just keeping things as good as they have always been.”