BERWYN — Pete Fejzuloski learned the restaurant business by starting at the bottom at the age of 14. Today, Fejzuloski and his wife, Julie, stand at the helm of the Paisans Pizza chain of restaurants, with locations at 6226 Ogden Ave., Berwyn; 3720 Grand Blvd., Brookfield; and 5840 W. 16th St., Cicero.
The dynasty started in 1985 when Luigi Fejzuloski opened a small shop in Cicero where his 14-year-old son, Pete, was his right-hand man.
“When we started we used to make pizzas in a kitchen oven,” Pete Fejzuloski said. “We’d sell ice cream, cigarettes, anything we could make money on.”
His sons, Peter, 21, and Dominick, 19, have joined Fejzuloski in the restaurant business. Like him, they started at the bottom.
“My kids are doing the same thing, learning at the ‘College of Hard Knocks,’” Fejzuloski said.
And then there’s Julie, who keeps the books for the business.
“She’s the big boss,” he added.
There’s more to operating a restaurant than just knowing how to cook, Fejzuloski said. And it doesn’t end with hard work, either.
“It’s all about customer satisfaction, being loyal to them. Everything we do is made fresh daily,” he said.“That’s why our business has grown to what it is today. And it‘s all thanks to our loyal customers. It’s all about hard work and trying to please the customer.
“You’ve got to have good employees and we have really great people working for us,” he added. “We have a great chef with great specialties daily.”
In 2011, Fejzuloski opened the Berwyn location in what was once a 20,000-square-foot warehouse. Inside, the restaurant keeps with the theme of Old Route 66.
That’s something that comes easy for Fejzuloski, a gearhead with a passion for cars and motorcycles.
“We’re doing very well and we’re very happy with it,” he said of the Berwyn location. “It has a really cool ambiance in there. We have a dragster hanging over the bar and custom motorcycles. Anyone who comes in says it’s like a monster. A lot of people know our place from back in the day. Once they come in and see this place, they’re blown away.”
Fejzuloski ends each working day with the satisfaction that can only come from giving the job his all.
“I’m very proud, I love what I do,” he said. “My biggest thing is I love to watch people eat and have a good time. It makes me feel good.”
About Pete Fejzuloski
Job: Owner of Paisans Pizza in Berwyn, Cicero and Brookfield
Family: Wife, Julie; sons Pete, 21, Dominick, 19, Jim, 17; daughter, Juliana, 14
Interests: Loves cars and motorcycles, collects both
Notable: Winner of the Berwyn Development Corporation’s George W. Ashby Award for Business Excellence in 2012