Conversation with Rocco Caponi, Rocco’s, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Conversation November 2012
Father Mario Caponi’s with son Rocco

Rocco lets us in on his family pizzeria’s 50th anniversary celebration and its sheet pizza.

The key to Rocco’s Pizza longevity? Hard work, sacrifice and family unity. We celebrated our 50th anniversary by offering two types of 12­inch pizzas: cheese ($1.95) and pepperoni at ($2.25) at their original 1962 prices. We redesigned our pizza boxes, we gave out magnet and key chains and distributed a press release to make the local media aware of our milestone anniversary and our promo­tion. The food editor of our local newspaper, the Akron Beacon Journal, and a photographer came to the shop and interviewed me and the entire family. They then came back to cover the celebration. They were impressed by the turnout — 1,000 people passed through our doors and we sold 900 pizzas in six hours. The wait was about 90 minutes at its peak. The line was orderly and nobody complained about the wait. It was a big party. All our workers did their tasks well. My wife, Gina, my mom, Luisa, my sister in-law, Julie, and a cousin, Kim, took care of making the dough and prepping the pizzas. Then we had the baking crew. One fed the oven, one took the pizzas out, one cut them and gave the pizzas to our cashier, my sister Rita. My father, Mario, my brother, Mario, Jr. and I greeted all our loyal custom­ers. My father reminisced with some of our longtime customers. One even showed up with an original menu from 1962! The plan that I set up worked well and was orderly. It was a huge success. Customers and workers alike had a great time.

My dad remains a confidant, giving advice when needed and consulted when necessary. He did not meddle, giving my brother and I free rein to run the business. My mother comes to work every day to help me with prep work in the morning for a couple of hours. She loves it.

Making meats in house: The advantage is that we know exactly what we are getting when we order fresh ground pork and ground beef. We use our own seasoning recipe and no fillers to stretch the prod­uct. There is no substitute for freshness.

Sheet pizzas are baked in 18-inch by 24-inch pans and are one of our best sellers. We cater them to schools, office and factories for pizza parties or fundraisers. One school orders a quantity each week and sells them during lunch with the pro­ceeds used to subsidize prom at the end of the year. We average about 100 a week. We were the first to introduce sheet pizza in this area around 1975. They are the best value, as one sheet equals four 12-inch pizzas.

Our Portage Trail (Cuyahoga Falls) location has a party room that can accommodate groups up to 40 people. The room is lined with classic arcade video games for the groups’ enjoyment at no extra charge.

For larger occasions we offer a special cater­ing menu with items not on the regular store or carry out menu. We are licensed by the state of Ohio to cater school lunches. We do not limit this to pizza but we offer whatever menu the school requests including chicken, fried potato wedges, salads, subs, pasta or mac and cheese. We do not offer home delivery. We deliver any order to offices, schools and factories with a minimum of $50. We specialize in pharmaceutical representative orders.

Rocco’s
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Following in their father Mario Caponi’s footsteps, Rocco and his brother Mario run two-unit Rocco’s in Cuyahoga Falls and Stow, Ohio.

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