Not even fire stopped Pauly's from reaching five-years-in-business milestone
You see Pauly Berardini everyplace. His face is on the side of his ubiquitous delivery cars, on the outfield wall at Dwyer Stadium and various youth sports facilities around town.
It’s been that way in Batavia for five years now.
It’s an audacious bit of promotion, but when Berardini and his partner Dave Stupp decided to open up a pizza joint, they knew they would need strong marketing to stand out in a very competitive town for pizzerias.
“I thought about that (the competitive environment),” Berardini said while slathering tomato sauce on a pepperoni pie destined for a youth sporting event. “I thought about the demographic. I just decided to use my face, my talent and go from there.”
He's done other things with his life – from baking to selling cars – but to hear him talk, it’s clear: 40-year-old Pauly Berardini was destined to be a pizza man.
“I went to food service at BOCES and I learned how to frost cakes and make pancakes,” Berardini said. “That wasn’t exciting to me. Ever since I was a little boy, just watching that guy throw a pizza in the air – you know, like a kid wants to be a fireman, he sees the fire trucks, I saw a couple of gentlemen who ended up being good friends of mine kind of teaching me the business, and I just decided it was something I wanted to do.”
Pauly was inspired by the pizza men he saw at the legendary Gino’s Pizza. Gino’s was a mainstay at 102 Liberty St. through the 1960s and 1970s. Then the location became Ficarella’s, where Pauly worked for seven years. And that was the location Pauly chose for his own pizzeria when he and Stupp opened for business Oct. 24, 2004.
By all accounts, the original Pauly’s was a successful, growing company, and then tragedy struck – the kind of turn of events that has put many people out of business – fire.
An early morning blaze on March 21, 2007 destroyed Pauly’s on Liberty. The cause of the fire was never determined, but it meant that three businesses lost their locations. The old place -- behind the former Mother’s Chicken ‘n’ Fish building -- is now a parking lot.
Apparently, the two other businesses in that building – Room for Dessert Cafe and Batavia Framing and Design – never reopened.
Berardini and Stupp weren’t going to be kept down, though. Eighty-eight days later, the doors opened at 314 Ellicott St., and this time Pauly's featured seating and a waitress, a level of service the partners had wanted to add all along.
“I had a lot of phone calls and messages that were left on my answering machine from customers and friends encouraging me to get going again,” Pauly said. “Yeah, it was traumatic at first, but when one door closes, another one opens.
"Now we have a great sit-down place here and the parking on the weekends is great. (People can) bring the family, have a party – we have a party of 20 today – sit down is the key.”
Pauly was excited Saturday morning -- not just to be celebrating five years in business – he and Stupp had just received word that they’ve been approved for a beer and wine license and will start serving them within a week.
“Now you can come and enjoy pizza or pasta with beer or wine, and that’s always a plus,” Berardini said.