It was just time for longtime Sayville Pizza co-owners Frank Pezzuto and Chad Johnson. A bittersweet goodbye it will surely be, but after all, the hours it takes to run a town-favorite pizza joint can be, admittedly, overwhelming.
Pezzuto’s family started the business some 63 years ago. His uncle originally opened the joint after the original building in that location perished in a fire. He opened Sayville Pizza in the new building then owned by the Fritzsches (the building is still owned by descendents). A few months later, his father, Joe, and grandfather, Frank, took ownership and ran it until Pezzuto took over about 30 years ago. Pezzuto grew up in Sayville Pizza, commuting from his then Dix Hills home. He now resides in Oakdale. He made his first pizza at 5 years old and had regular hours by age 13. At the time his father retired, he took over and has been in charge ever since.
Johnson, a 1990 Sayville High School grad and longtime Sayville resident, now married with a daughter in the district, worked under Pezzuto during his time in high school. He was the first hired delivery guy and was eventually asked if he wanted to buy in. And so he did 19 years ago, and has basically been the face of the joint as the person customers see behind the counter daily. But after hours and hours of his time daily, Johnson has decided to retire to spend time with his family and help Pezzuto run their other endeavor, Cherry Grove Pizza, for six to seven months out of the year.
“I love being here, I am always here. I have seen high school kids grow up working here through high school and then in college, eventually getting married and having kids,” he said, somewhat sad to let it go. “But this will be an interesting change of life.”
Pezzuto is less inclined to give up his family-owned pizza place and a staple in the ever-changing Main Street, but he said due to a few health issues and in an effort to focus solely on Cherry Grove, he is willing to sell, but only to the right buyer.
“For me, owning here makes it easier owning our other store,” he said, explaining that he uses it for storage and to cook some larger-quantity items like meatballs. “If I do sell, I don’t want to just sell to anybody. It has to be a name that’s recognized because this town needs it,” he added, noting his love for Sayville.
The business was officially listed for sale earlier this month online for $309,995. Johnson promised the sale comes with everything inside, including the name, employees and even the recipes, though he hopes another local pizza place will possibly want to run it, successfully.
A handful of potential buyers have already come forward; however, some have been only investors not fully aware of what it takes to run a pizza place. For those interested, call Sayville Pizza at 631-589-3760 and ask for Chad or Frank. n