(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Described by his wife as the Godfather of pizza, Louie Sciarrotta has been perfecting the craft of pizza since he turned 10 years old. Over the years, he turned his passion for pies into a career–by opening several restaurants in Colorado Springs, all bearing his name.
“When my mom and dad came from Italy, my dad worked at General Motors, but a lot of relatives owned pizzerias in Detroit, so he went ahead and bought a pizzeria,” Sciarrotta said. “I was 10 and then when I turned 16, he didn’t want a pizzeria anymore, so he said, ‘you can either keep it or I’m going to sell it.”
At the age when you first learn how to drive, Sciarrotta was learning how to run a business. It was here in Michigan where he met his wife Dawn.
“I have two kids, a boy and a girl,” Sciarrotta said. “When they were born, we decided Detroit’s not really the greatest place and Colorado Springs, it was just beautiful back then. We just decided that it’s going to happen. It was a dream, but it happened. We came out here with nothing. I didn’t even have a job at the time, so I came out, bought a house, rented a building for a pizzeria, and just kind of started from that point on.”
Since 1986, Dawn and Louie have helped provide slices and smiles to the city of Colorado Springs.
“Well, it’s tough now, it’s hard for a mom-and-pop operation to succeed,” Sciarrotta said. “I still consider ourselves a mom-and-pop operation and thankfully, the employees I have are incredible. Without them, never could have been able to do this. So, they take a personal interest in it.”
Along the walls of the Louie’s Pizza location on Tutt Boulevard, there are framed memories that come from the Southern Colorado community. Among them, a pizza box from a couple’s first date that then turned into a marriage.
Also on the walls–a collection of t-shirts from the different schools Louie’s Pizza has supported through providing pizza for lunches.
“The other schools take pride in the pizzeria,” Sciarrotta said. “They understand we treat them like family. Everything here is a family affair, and the schools and communities and outreach programs that we support. That’s what it’s all about. They took care of us and we in turn take care, do what we can to support the community.”
While the pizzeria has grown up alongside the community, it also has seen multiple generations of employees.
“A lot of employees have been with us 15, 20, 25 [years],” Sciarrotta said. “We got a couple that have been with us for 30 years. I don’t pay that much, so it’s not because of the money, they just love the job and love the work.”
When asked what the most popular item on the menu is, Sciarrotta said cheesy bread is the winner.
“We’ll talk to people who have been with us for 20 or 30 years, and that’s the biggest thing they remember is the cheesy bread,” Sciarrotta said. “Everybody loves the pizza, but they talk about our cheesy bread.”
Zayne Wittrock is one employee of Louie’s Pizza who grew up eating this exact pizza, now he helps prepare and make the legendary slices.
“Well, first it starts with the dough you have,” Wittrock said. “I make sure that all the pans are wiped out so it’s nice and clean. I cut the bread, chop it with cheese, run it through the oven, make sure it’s fully cooked. I try to put not as much, but a good amount of butter and garlic parmesan just so it’s nice and tasty, you know… I try to make my pizzas really pretty.”
When asked what his favorite dish is, Wittrock too shared it is the cheesy bread but with a signature touch.
“My favorite thing on the menu, it’s a secret item, that’s hot bread,” Wittrock. “It’s hot sauce with cheese bread. Oh, my gosh, it’s to die for.”
While Louie and his wife are saying goodbye to ownership, the restaurant will still be around. The new owner was described by Sciarrotta as a family man from Parker.
When asked about future plans, Sciarrotta said he doesn’t think he will be back in the pizza business.
“We’re going to just enjoy the free time for a little bit,” Sciarrotta said. “I’ve been doing this since I was 10 years old, so one of the things I joke about sometimes, this going to be the first time in my life I have to actually buy a pizza because I’ve never had to buy a pizza.”