"We're like family. Our customers think they are at home. Everything is self-serve, and we're on a first name basis with everybody."
Couple Keeps Up Tasty Tradition
Thursday July 6th, 1995 The Sun Messenger by Christene Kastner
At Tasty Pizza, the secret’s not in the sauce or even the crust – it’s the family.
Opened 38 years ago by family partriarch Joe Compola and his wife Mary, Tasty Pizza has been a part of life in Lyndhurst for countless customers who grew up eating pizza there and who now bring their families to dine.
“We feel very fortunate that my husband and I own Tasty Pizza now, but it was mom and dad who started it and we thank them for it. It still seems like they are here in the restaurant with us,” said Jackie Woytovich.
That’s because almost nothing has changed.
Carrying on the Compola family tradition, she and husband Joe have kept things the same, including the homelike atmosphere.
Sure a few toppings have been added to the menu: spinach, broccoli, artichokes. But the meatballs and sauce are still homemade and you still come in and “seat yourself.”
First-time customers could be a bit confused by the longstanding procedure. You just seat yourself in the dining room, order your pizza at the counter, pick up a few plates and utensils from the back room, and help yourself to a soda or one of the 150 different “beers of the world” from the front cooler.
If you want salad, just tell Edith. She’s in the kitchen, in the back of the dining room and has been tossing salads for more than 11 years.
When your pizza is ready, Joe will bring it to your table.
After you finish, you box up the leftovers, and then stop by the counter to tell Joe what you had to drink so he can add it to your tab. Regulars often bring their own bottle caps up to the counter for tallying.
“This procedure has been the same since the place opened, but when we spot a new customer, we give them a little more service and try to explain things to them. It’s always been homestyle, help yourself type of dinning. We want our customers to feel at ease here and they seem to like it,” Jackie said.
Almost every member of the Compola family helps out in one way or another at “Grandpa Joe Compola’s Restaurant,” from making pizza dough to washing pale green Malmac dishes from the 1950s.
Joe Woytovich, who has done construction work on the Perry Nuclear Power plant and cut hair, never quite envisioned himself a “career pizza chef” until he and Jackie took over the restaurant and his brothers-in-law, Tony and Jimmy, taught him the ropes.
Longtime customers often recall how Joe Compola could be seen dozing in a chair while his children served evening customers. Still others talk about how Mary would quit on him at least once every day, only to return the next day.
“Those customers are what made Tasty’s what it is. They’re really loyal. Now they’ve grown up and bring their families here.
With four young children already learning to clear tables and help out at Tasty’s, there is no doubt that one of them will someday take over the reins from Jackie and Joe.
Tasty Pizza, 5101 Mayfield Road, is open 11:00 am to 10:00 pm Mondays - Saturday and Sundays 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm