CHATHAM — Forty never tasted so good.
"If you would have asked me in 1972 when I got the nerve to start this business if I thought we would last 40 years, I would have said 'I doubt it.' But it's nice to be wrong every now and then," said John Clark Jr., founder, president and CEO of Reggio's. "Trust me, it has not been easy to keep the doors open."
Reggio's Pizza is headquartered at 340 W. 83rd St. inside a 36,000-square-foot facility where the pizzas are made.
"I remember when we built our headquarters. [My wife and I] mortgaged everything we had in order to build out this facility," recalled Clark, who owns the company with his wife, Pearl.
The company's first headquarters was located at 730 E. 87th St. and had fewer than 20 employees. Today though, Reggio's Pizza employs 110 people, and Clark said many of his employees lived in the Chatham area.
There are also restaurants at 120 W. 87th St., 1339 S. Halsted St., and three located inside O'Hare International Airport. Whole pizzas start at $10.53 and slices start at $3.99.
Longtime customer Janice Green, 41, said she had been eating Reggio's Pizza since she was 10.
"I love their pizza. Next to Harold's Chicken I think Reggio's Pizza is the only other food I can remember eating since I was little," she said. "I am glad to see that after all these years they are still here."
Despite the success his company has achieved, Clark reminds people that he continues to fight battles 40 years later.
"We have been located in Chatham for 40 years, but the Target store in Chatham will not carry our frozen pizzas. Why? I couldn't tell you," Clark said. "And it's not like we are not already carried by other major retailers."
The company's frozen pizzas are sold at Jewel, Walmart, Aldi, Dominick's, Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, Save-A-Lot, and Meijer. Brands offered are cheese, sausage and turkey, and pizzas are available in thin crust or deep dish styles.
Target officials did not immediately return calls for comment.
Clark said he was happy to still be in business and hoped to have his doors open 40 years from now.
"I may not be here 40 years from now," Clark said, "but as long as Reggio's Pizza is here my presence will always be felt."