As a child, Debbie Smith loved going to work with her dad, James Krenek, at his bakery in Upper Arlington. He had bought the Tremont Goodie Shop in the late 1960s.
When Avery Ward's grandparents started the family business, it was a grocery store. Chuck and Janet Ward opened Chuck's Little Giant grocery on Main Street in Groveport in 1966.
The store flourished and the couple bought the building where it was located. When Chuck Ward saw chain grocery stores taking hold in central Ohio during the late 1970s, he decided to pursue something else.
The family opened Little Italy Pizza in 1979, said Avery Ward, whose father, Nick, currently runs the restaurant. His grandmother, Janet, still does the bookkeeping.
"We've kept it mostly the same," said 17-year-old Avery, who runs the pizzeria's website and handles its social media. "All of our dough and noodles are made in-house every day."
Do you think the restaurant is a big part of the local community?
There's a huge connection. We put a joke on our Facebook page on April Fools' Day that we were closing. People came into the restaurant and said, "You can't do that." People always tell us their memories of going to Little Italy after football games and baseball games.
Tell us about your salad dressing.
It's very, very popular. My grandma made the recipe when she was younger. Everybody craves our salad dressing. People come in and buy it by the quart so they can put it on their salads at home.
What do you recommend a first-time diner order at the restaurant?
You can't go wrong with pizza but you probably should try the fettuccini. It's made with homemade noodles and meat sauce and baked until it's golden brown.
Have you grown up working at the restaurant?
I always came in every single day in the summer with my dad to make pizza. When I was 13, I started taking over the computer stuff. The POS (point of sales) system evolved into my hands. I do all of our online marketing.
What's it like working in a family business?
Sometimes it's kind of frustrating working with my dad because he's stubborn-headed. We'll get there.