“This honor means a lot. We’ve been in business this long for a reason, and I think we set the standard for pizza in the area,” said Chuck Vitale, president and CEO.
The pizzeria was founded by Chester and Mary Dadabo in the kitchen of the family’s Lindenwald home. Mary first put her pizzas for sale, half-baked and frozen, in Chester’s Market on Pleasant Avenue. The Dadabo’s ran a grocery store on the front of their property, and their house sat behind it.
“After selling pizza’s for a while in the grocery store, my grandfather saw something there, and he got out of the grocery store business. He had a second carry-out/grocery store location, which is where we are at now, and he just closed it down, put in a couple pizza ovens, and started making pizzas,” Vitale said.
Although the original building was torn down in 1977, that’s where it all started.
“Chester’s Pizza was founded in April 1954. We just had our 69th anniversary this past April, and we’re going to have 70 years, coming up. I know we’re the oldest pizza place in Butler County,” Vitale said.
There is also an interesting story behind the name of the business.
“My grandfather’s real name isn’t Chester. He had taken that name because that was his nickname when he worked in the coal mines in West Virginia. With the heavy Appalachian accent that they had, they couldn’t pronounce his name. In Italian, you would pronounce it Chez-ah-ray but to read it out or say it in English it was Cesare,” Vitale said.
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They couldn’t say Cesare, so they just started calling him Chester, and that’s how he got his name, he said.
Just as they made the first pizzas, and still do today, each Chester’s Pizza is prepared with the finest quality ingredients and toppings. The Dadabos, originally immigrants from Italy, had one recipe to follow, and that hasn’t changed.
Vitale has many fond memories of growing up in the business and those early experiences instilled many of the same values and beliefs the business operates on today.
“My father, Charles Vitale, married into the family in 1960, and he started working for my grandfather. And when I was a little boy, I would want to go to work with my Dad all the time. I would go there to be with him, and I’d play with the dough. Then, right around the time I was age 10 or so, I had already learned how to roll pizza dough with a rolling pen. So, I would go in and help them out when they were shorthanded, and that was back in the early 1970′s. So, I’ve been involved with the business for a long time,” he said.
Vitale said the quality, made-from scratch pizza with fresh ingredients is something the family has always taken pride in.
We don’t take shortcuts when it comes to the ingredients and there’s a high standard when it comes to what we purchase, he said.
“When you have something that tastes good, you have to keep that taste. If you change one little thing, people will let you know,” Vitale said.
Superior customer service is another aspect of the business that puts them first in customers’ minds.
“Our customer service is really good. We do our best to make it a great experience when people come in. But we always stick to putting out a quality product. That’s the biggest thing. My grandfather lived by the idea that if I make something and my family doesn’t like it, why would I serve it to the public, and we’ve always tried to keep that going,” Vitale said.
Vitale, a third-generation family member, said he learned from the bottom up, and that was the best way to learn, because he learned everything. When he was old enough, his father taught him how to make pizza dough and the sauce.
“When you have so much family involved with it, it’s hard to describe…We worked hard. We had a busy pizza shop at the time because the competition back then wasn’t nearly as big as it is now. Today, there are pizzeria’s everywhere,” Vitale said.
He said, “In my opinion, and obviously in everybody else’s opinion, we sell the best pizza around, and we’ve been doing this a long time but we have fun, and we have worked hard. We always try to make sure that we put out the best product possible. We’ve never swayed from changing the recipes and things like that. We use high quality ingredients.”
Through the years, Chester’s Pizza has built a loyal customer base. Many guests have been with them for decades and the business continues to serve second and third generation customers.
“We have consistent regular customers on a weekly basis, some of them can be daily at times, or three, four to five times a week. It’s amazing. I see customers that I met a kid, and they are still coming in today in their 70′s and 80′s,” Vitale said.
Customers who love Chester’s Pizza talk about it and the business continues to attract new customers.
“We’re also getting new people all the time. Visitors come in from out of town because of Spooky Nook, and people recommend us to them. We offer a good pizza and we’re pretty proud of that. Our reputation goes out pretty far,” he said.
The pizzeria’s five top-sellers include Pepperoni, Pepperoni and Sausage, Supreme, the All-Meat Pizza and the Vendetta, a hot and spicy pizza.
Chester’s Pizza is located at 2929 Dixie Hwy. in Hamilton. To check out its menu visit chesterssicilianpizza.com or call (513) 892-1873.