By Shawna Peete & Andrew Nalewski
Food is a versatile thing; it can be used for sustenance, comfort, recreation, and social fun. Making the food employs three out of four of those things, and one other: passion. Making food is also a source of income, but it can also – more importantly – build a home.
That home is Campus Pizza, and it recently welcomed two new family members.
Lawrence Lagoy and Chris Cordio, cousins who grew up in the Fitchburg area, recently purchased the business, and have taken over the day to day operations.
The two men are hard workers and dedicated people, with Lagoy being an active member of the Army, and Cordio a Fitchburg police officer. In addition, the two own and manage their own construction company.
The idea to buy the business was joked about between the duo, and gradually became a serious thought, in both the spirit of entrepreneurship and of life-long dreams.
“The both of us wanted to own a pizza shop our entire lives,” says Lagoy, when asked about their motivation for buying the business.
The two have a history with the business. Cordio had his first job there, starting at 9 years old washing dishes, and was employed there until he was 23. Lagoy also worked at the shop for 7 years.
They have a close relationship with Jim Idaris, the previous owner, who employed and tailored them.
“[He] became more of a father to us,” the duo said of Idaris, who owned the shop for 35 years before selling it to the cousins.
Idaris had been running the business on his own for the last 16 years of his tenure, due to the untimely and tragic death of co-owner Mike Haidousis, and was ready to retire from managing it.
Idaris tried to sell the business to Fitchburg State a few years back, but the deal never bore fruit.
Idaris still works full time at the shop, however, boasting his signature half-smile and experienced gaunt.
The atmosphere in the shop is very casual and friendly, with joking and smiles being thrown about this way and that.
The cousins have expressed the need for such a safe and comfortable environment for students and residents of Fitchburg, noting the stigma that comes with the area.
Despite the ere of negativity, the duo have an affection for their hometown, and are doing many things to improve it. The desire to help stems from experience and compassion, with both owners growing up close to the University in relative poverty. “Being a cop in the city, you see the struggles people go through,” says Cordio.
In that spirit, the shop recently sponsored 5K for Little Feet, an event that aims to give underprivileged children new shoes. “It’s not about getting recognition. It’s more about helping the community,” says Cordio.
In addition to the new personality and atmosphere, the pizza shop also boasts improvements both cosmetic and culinary.
Under the new management, the walls have gone from red to Fitchburg State green. They’ve got new floor tiles and table tops. In the future, they’re aiming to replace the windows, ceiling, and add in five new tv sets, in addition to the ones recently implemented, for displaying menu items and prices.
A fountain soda machine is among their newest upgrades, as are milkshakes in popular flavors like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cookies & cream, coffee, mint chocolate chip, and many more.
The shop previously sold other items, such as canned goods, which now have been taken off of the shelves. “We’ve taken away the canned goods and replaced them with the things kids want,” says Lawrence.
Leroy and Cordio believe that these changes are necessary to appeal to their target customers of teens and young adults.
Renovations however are far from being finished; between May and June the duo will begin establishing within the restaurant a coffee shop. The cousins hope that this project will be finished and open for business by next semester.
Besides the cosmetic and utilitarian upgrades, there are new additions to the culinary cornucopia.
The co-owners have introduced a buffet that carries all kinds of items that change every day, ranging fro mac n’ cheese to pot pie. Lagoy and Cordio have stated that all their daily specials are prepared fresh every morning, and that nothing on their menu is premade.
Appetizers such as fried oreos, fried pickles, and fried raviolis have made it onto the menu and are described by the duo as “dangerously delicious.” The two of us had all three, and we were certainly ‘in danger’ of emptying our bank accounts to fill our stomachs.
Jumbo chicken wings have also been introduced, and the duo proudly declares that they offer nearly every type of sauce, most notably the “Kickin’ Bourbon Molasses”.
Cordio also makes special corn, blueberry, and oat bran muffins, and recommends everyone try them.
The duo invites all students to take advantage of their Monday and Tuesday special: a $5.00 small pizza and fountain soda combo. Additionally, pizza deliveries are now free to all students living on Fitchburg State campus.
Despite being so close to the college for 35 years, it seems like a remarkably large amount of students do not know of the shop’s existence. The duo aims for this to change.
And when it’s so close to home, there’s really no reason not to stop in and meet some new friends.