Inky’s Italian Food

EricS.

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Over three generations, this family-owned thin-crust institution in Ohio has forged connections among staff and customers alike for 60-plus years.

inkys-2Frank Incorvaia Sr. and his wife, Gloria, started their now third-generation pizza business on a very small scale: working out of a bar kitchen in suburban Rossford, Ohio. As business took off, they secured their own space in 1957, a single dining room in nearby Toledo, and brought in Frank’s brother, John, to help out with the new—and now booming—Inky’s Pizza. “They already had a following from the other location, with their own special recipes, and started with about a dozen tables,” recalls Lisa Incorvaia-Schnapp, manager of Inky’s and granddaughter of the founders. “In the early ’80s, a bar next to the pizzeria burned down, so afterward my grandfather purchased the building to expand our current location, which now seats 155 people.”

Despite the significant bump in size, most aspects of Inky’s haven’t changed: Its famous pizza, with a thin crackerlike crust, remains a menu staple alongside homemade Italian specialties like meatballs and ravioli. Though the family taps Facebook to spread the word, and FedEx to ship pies across the country, the business shuns a POS system, delivery or traditional advertising. But the old-school outpost has thrived through generations, first passing to Frank Jr. (who still works the dining room on weekends) and now a third: Lisa, her brother, Frank III, and cousin Adam. “We have lines out the door on weekend nights and do huge carryout business,” Lisa says. “It’s generational—people came in with their parents and grandparents, and now they come with their own kids. Those stories make you feel good.”

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inkys-4Despite all of that history and experience, the Incorvaia family still works hard to maintain core values: quality product, community involvement, and a customer service ethic where family ties extend to not only the web of owners but customers and staff. “We’re out in the dining room asking questions about their families, because they’re part of our family as well,” Lisa explains. “One of our waitresses has been here 32 years—so even if we’re not blood related, we’re family. When we hear ‘Inky’s Pizza,’ we can hold our head high, knowing we’re part of that family. And in the pizzeria, we foster that same team spirit. When a customer walks in, it’s not one waitress’ customer; it’s an Inky’s customer. And the customer always comes first.” 

Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.

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