GROVEPORT, Ohio (WCMH) — More than 50 years ago, Chuck and Janet Ward took out an $18,000 loan to buy a Groveport grocery store at 619 Main Street that came with a house right next to it, renaming the store Chuck’s Little Giant.
Nearby was a small pizza shop they purchased as well that they renamed Little Italy Pizza. In 1979, sales at the grocery store were declining while the pizza restaurant continued to see success so they turned the bigger grocery store building into the new home of Little Italy Pizza.
Forty-four years later, that original building is making way for an expanded new home for the restaurant.
On Feb. 4, Little Italy Pizza served its final dish from its home of nearly half a century as they are set to reopen at a new building at 480 Main Street on Feb. 12, which is Super Bowl Sunday. Since it first opened its doors, the Ward family has continued to run the business with Chuck and Janet’s grandson Avery operating as CEO since 2018.
Before Avery came back to the family business to take over for his dad Nick, he had spent the last five years working in Apple retail.
“I came back to the business with the passion of technology because that was my background,” Avery said. “How can I make our business better by using technology, but also instilling the values my grandparents had and also that my dad has?”
Avery helped launch the restaurant’s online presence with social media, online ordering, and more which became crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. Little Italy Pizza experienced a boon during the pandemic with its takeout and delivery options serving the community.
Part of an economic development project from the City of Groveport was building the new 5,268-square-foot building for Little Italy Pizza.
“We’ve been bursting at the seams in our building and so I knew I had to make a change,” Avery said.
The new building’s kitchen is bigger than the original building and includes a full-service bar, outdoor dining area, a hand-dipped ice cream shop with 20 different flavors, and intricate building details and murals honoring the history of the original home.
“There were a lot of different things we were able to do to tie it back to the old place and pay homage to it,” Avery said. “But also focus on the future to continue to serve that promise to serve the best pizza to make people’s days a little better.”
From Columbus-style pizza to homemade pasta, Little Italy Pizza’s new location is ready to go on its Super Bowl launch date, which just so happens to be the biggest pizza delivery day of the year.
“I was hoping for a soft opening, but I don’t think it will be,” Avery said. “We’re ready for the fire.”
The original building on 619 Main St. will be redesigned and be the home of a new hot dog restaurant in the near future. For more information on Little Italy Pizza, click here.