CUYAHOGA FALLS — "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore."
Dean Martin’s 1953 hit song about love and Italian food could be about Mark and Phyllis "Philly" Madias’ life together.
After 30 years of running Mark and Philly’s Pizza, without a break, the two were looking forward to a much deserved vacation.
Their anniversary (business and wedding) was a good excuse to take a break from work — and pizza.
"I’m going to eat lobster," Madias declared days before he temporarily closed Mark and Philly’s Pizza for a week for the first time since it opened at 3156 Bailey Road on July 19, 1988. They reopened Tuesday.
Mark and Philly met in 1985 while working at another restaurant. "We worked the same hours back in the kitchen together and we worked so well together," he said.
Little did he know when they met they would continue working together for three decades as husband and wife.
Shortly after they got married in 1988, the restaurant where they were working closed.
"We were in our late 20s and we didn’t know what to do for our future jobs," he recalled. "We said, ‘Why don’t we check into starting our own restaurant.’ So that year we started Mark and Philly’s Pizza."
Madias said being able to work side-by-side with his wife has been a blessing.
"I feel so lucky because I have gotten to work with my best friend every day for the past 30 years," he said. "Phyllis is so special. She hasn’t missed a day of work in 30 years." Madias has nearly perfect attendance. He missed three days when he had to be hospitalized.
How they make it into work each day even in the winter? They live in a house behind the shop.
The shop itself is a former Lawson’s convenience store. When Madias bought it, he divided the space in half, allowing 1,250 square feet for his pizza shop and another 1,250 square feet for a tenant, currently a beauty shop.
Mark and Philly’s customers come back again and again because, according to Madias, the food is consistently good, and he and his wife are always there.
"That’s who brings back 100 percent of the people: Phyllis," he said. "And I’m right behind there cooking. And it’s always the same. That’s how they know us. She’s the pizza lady and I’m the pizza guy in the back."
"It’s a pizza love story," he added.
Mrs. Madias said her husband deserves a lot of credit.
"He gives all the credit to me, but he does all the cooking and that’s the main thing," she said. "It works hand-in-hand. I might give good customer service, but he cooks everything from scratch."
Mark and Philly’s offers award-winning deep dish Sicilian pizza pies, traditional pizzas, fried chicken dinners and buckets, fish and shrimp dinners, subs, salads, spaghetti, lasagna, "famous" barbecued wings and jo-jo potatoes. The shop has won numerous awards through local competitions including the Beacon’s Best.
"We have the best customers," Phyllis Madias said. "They are all my friends. I’ve watched three generations of customers over years."
Mark Madias said he, too, appreciates the shop’s patrons over the years. "I want to thank all of you for being so good to us," he said.
Mark and Philly’s is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 4-9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday noon to 8:30 p.m.; closed Mondays. Delivery is available everyday starting at 4 p.m. The dining room seats 24.
The pizza shop’s phone number is 330-920-1675. The website is at https://markandphillyspizza.com/.
Reporter Steve Wiandt, can be reached at 330-541-9420, firstname.lastname@example.org or @SteveWiandt_RPC.