|Itís a special celebration for Mary Fazio this week
Sunday, Dec. 8, Mary’s Pizza Shack is inviting the public to all their 19 locations to celebrate what would have been founder Mary Fazio’s 100th birthday. In honor of Fazio, who passed away when she was 85, the restaurants will be decorated with balloons and poster-sized images of her and will serve all costumers pieces of birthday cake.
“We’re not going to have anything huge,” said Cully Williamson, owner of the Rohnert Park Pizza Shack location and Fazio’s grandson-in-law (married to Fazio’s granddaughter Terri Albano-Williamson) in a phone interview. “Just something to try to honor her… it’s where it all started; she’s the one that got this going and kept it going for almost 55 years.”
Fazio opened her first location of Mary’s Pizza Shack when she was 46 in Boyes Hot Springs, Sonoma. She was a single mother, divorced from her second husband and working in the restaurant industry. According to Williamson, Fazio had been working in the restaurant industry most of her life, working, as he put it, a little bit of every job; she was a server and a cook. It was something of a dare, said Williamson, by Fazio’s friends that she open up her own restaurant. She rose to the challenge and the rest is now history.
“(Our success) is from the foundation that Mary built,” said Williamson. “She was a big personality; she really struck a cord with people. People would come in and visit with her, it was a good combination. She got her son and daughter involved… it grew into a much bigger business than she ever dreamed of.”
Mary’s franchise prides itself on being a family-owned and oriented company, and it seems to live up to those expectations. Though Fazio is nearly twenty years gone, her company remains close to her family, with her children and grandchildren working behind the scene to keep things moving. Her grandson Vince Albano is serving as CEO and, like Williamson, some of her in-laws are working close to the company’s heart, like grandson-in law, IT Director Bruce Lane. According to Williamson, Fazio’s grandchildren are scattered through the restaurants, working various jobs, like design décor or managing donations.
“She was always great about giving back to the community,” said Williamson of Fazio’s donations and the Pizza Shack’s work with local fundraisers, “and her grandchildren have followed suit.”
Mary’s Pizza Shack is located in Roger’s Plaza on Roberts Lake Rd. in Rohnert Park.