Ten years after opening Your Pizza Shop in West Akron, Angelo Gonzales III, with his partner Leeann Greitzer, gave the place a facelift inside and out with a simplified menu, a fresh pizza recipe, and a whole new brand — LeeAngelo’s Pizza.
Gonzales, who lives in Kent, says he was drawn to the Akron area, particularly the west side, because it reminded him of the neighborhood where he grew up in Buffalo, NY. He opened Your Pizza Shop in 2011 with his father, who ran a pizza shop in Buffalo.
Gonzales spent much of 2020 doing what he could to help out the community. He worked with other business owners and food vendors to provide 7,000 free lunches for local kids when schools closed. When restrictions relaxed, it was time to focus on the shop.
The name change and rebrand came as part of a massive update on the interior and exterior of the shop, which is in one of the units in a building that Gonzales owns on Exchange Street. They closed for nine weeks starting July 3, during which time they repainted the face of the building, refinished the parking lot, hung new signs, installed AC, and completely refreshed the interior working space.
Gonzales said that he realized he needed to provide his staff and community with a higher quality work environment in 2020.
“We just couldn’t keep doing it that way. I couldn’t ask my staff to work in those conditions,” he said, talking about the small kitchen space and outdated HVAC system.
The new space feels fresh and clean, with bright lights throughout and freshly painted murals by local artists Matt Miller and Dan Coffield. One wall is decorated with awards and memorabilia from Your Pizza Shop. The new LeeAngelo’s sign on the front of the building says “community over competition” across the top of it, reminding everyone who drives by what their philosophy is.
The menu has been consolidated — they’re offering three pizza sizes instead of six, and there are fewer size options for chicken dinners. Fun one-day-only specials like hot chicken sandwiches and loaded fries can be found on the shop’s social media for loyal followers.
LeeAngelo’s new pizza has a thick crust — a new recipe made in-house. Their tomato sauce comes from a different source than Your Pizza’s, and it’s seasoned in-house as well. The new pizza comes topped with a generous amount of cheese, crunchy garlic crust, and plenty of topping options.
Angelo’s uncle Jose and cousin Joe run the daily operations at LeeAngelo’s with a staff of 12 people. Gonzales recently upgraded starting pay for his employees to $11 an hour, saying he believes in “sweat equity,” and wants to use his business to “change people’s lives.” He’s looking forward to being able to offer franchise opportunities and is already working on plans for a second location.
LeeAngelo’s new website is simple and easy to navigate. Customers who create an account can use the site to view the menu and place an order, track their rewards points, and save digital coupons for later use. Anyone who had an account with Your Pizza can continue using the same logins, and their loyalty points from the past are still valid.
Your Pizza had a loyal following of local customers and LeeAngelo’s will likely be no different. While we can’t make jokes about “your” pizza shop on the corner anymore, LeeAngelo’s is still yours. And mine. And all of ours.
Emily Anderson likes anchovies on her pizza.
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