Posted at: 07/05/2013 4:17 PM
Updated at: 07/05/2013 5:49 PM
Who would have thought a restaurant empire would grow from a high school crush? The man behind the Salvatore's Old Fashioned Pizzeria says that girl in his home economic class inspired a company, 35 years strong.
Salvatore "SoccerSam" Fantauzzo said, "My future wife was in the class so I decided to take home economics and did a project on pizza. There weren't a lot of pizzerias back then and I thought, let's try to convince my boss at the time, which was right across the street from here, where I worked. I was pulling out one night and I saw a big "For Rent" sign on the shoe store. So we rented the shoe store and tried to keep it hush-hush for a while until my parents found out and then they went nuts. I promised them I'd graduate from high school. So I graduated I think June 25 and we opened July 5, 1978. When I opened it, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I thought this was something to get me by until I decided what I would do. We've learned to make a small pizzeria a business. To this day, here we have a thousand employees that kind of survive on what we created back in 1978 and that's the part that kind of makes me proud. This is my city and I think we are giving back and I feel good about it."
Sam said he wanted the restaurant to be called, "Sam's", but since that was already taken, he made a last minute decision and used his full name, Salvatore. Since he'd always been known as Sam, he had to call his mother from the lawyer's office to find out how to spell his given name.