words and photos by Noor Hindi
If you ask Angelo Gonzales what makes Your Pizza Shop pizza so good, he’ll grin and say, “There’s some love behind ours.”
Growing up, Angelo watched his dad work at a busy pizzeria in Buffalo, NY. He spent 10 years in the corporate world before opening Your Pizza Shop in Highland Square, which has been delivering “really good” pizza and chicken wings since 2011.
“One day I just decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. I didn’t want to wake up to an alarm clock to go make somebody wealthy. And overall, I wasn’t learning anything. I wasn’t excelling,” Angelo says of his corporate job. “Finally, I said, ‘Dad, you want to open a pizza shop?’ He said ‘Yeah.’ So we did.”
Walking into Your Pizza Shop, I was welcomed by art from students from Firestone High School, featuring a painting of Angelo surrounded by pizza toppings and a blimp with the words, “Good Pizza.”
The first few years of operating Your Pizza Shop were challenging, says Angelo, but his dad was a big help in getting him off the ground. Right now, Angelo is balancing running his own business and being a parent to three kids, which he says are his biggest motivation.
“My why is my kids, my family,” he says. “When you feel like giving up, you have to remember why you started. And they’re my why.”
Getting over the five-year death mark of opening a business took a lot of focus and learning from mistakes, Angelo says. He also credits his employees, who he calls “amazing.”
“You have to focus on just being the best version of yourself and being driven. You have to work hard. You have to work your ass off,” Angelo says. “It’s not going to happen overnight. You have to make mistakes, and instead of complaining and being upset about the mistakes, you have to take it as an opportunity to learn and get back up and keep going. Experience is your best teacher. It’s not about money and it’s not about how much you make. It’s really just get up, go to work and master your craft.”
In May, Angelo’s words were tested when shots were fired at Your Pizza Shop. Although the shooter was targeting a patron and no one was hurt, the event shook Angelo and his employees up.
Still, everyone went to work the next day.
“In the beginning, it was emotional,” Angelo says. “There’s so many questions that go through your mind. But then over time, the community, the overwhelming support that came from the community is really what reignited everything for me. The support of the community that said ‘please don’t leave.’ You felt like you were a staple here.”
Your Pizza Shop is community-driven. The shop frequently holds fundraisers for the West Akron Baseball and Softball League and other local organizations. Angelo loves the location of Your Pizza Shop because it reminds him of his childhood in Buffalo.
“Here in Akron, living in West Akron, it’s very urban,” Angelo says. “It’s very chill. Very cool. There’s a diverse culture and all walks of life are here. This feels like where we should be.”
Visit Your Pizza Shop at 1077 W Exchange St. Call 330-867-7000 to order, or visit yourpizzashopakron.com.
Noor Hindi is The Devil Strip’s Senior Reporter. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.