Mario’s Restaurant & Pizzeria

EricS.

marios-mario1972

Mario Simoni quit his day job at General Motors to start a new life in the pizza business.

marios-mariosimoniMario Simoni worked days at a General Motors plant and nights at a friend’s pizzeria when he decided to strike out on his own. An Italian immigrant, he opened Mario’s Restaurant & Pizzeria in Flint, Michigan, in April 1963. He developed his own recipes and served fellow Italians in the area with a simple menu (pizza, pasta and sandwiches). He offered late-night hours for factory workers, opening from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. each day. “It was a struggle at first, with 12-hour days,” recalls Frank Simoni, Mario’s son and current co-owner with his brother Sergio. “My brother Jerry and I basically grew up in the business just to be able to spend time with Mom and Dad.”

In the ’70s, Jerry and Frank went to work for the family business—now with a full bar and an expanded building—after graduating high school and fully took over the business in 1981, while Sergio, Mario and Mario’s wife, Margherita, moved to California and eventually opened up a restaurant in Escondido. But the family returned to Flint in 1997, and Sergio got involved with the original business, while Jerry struck out on his own to start a new venture.

marios-frankRegardless of changes over the years, the family-oriented environment at Mario’s hasn’t changed. “We’re very old-school, with a loyal clientele and a lot of involvement with local schools and sporting events,” Frank says. “My dad was always big into that, and we continue that tradition.”

From sponsoring local teams to dipping their toes into social media (Frank’s daughter started a Facebook page for the restaurant in 2013), the restaurant maintains a balance of honoring the past while adjusting for customers’ changing demands. Part of the restaurant’s success has involved its dedicated staff and the constant presence of at least one family member, adding a touch of personal warmth that touches every customer. “The pizza business takes hard work and dedication—it’s not the work that’s hard, but the hours you put in,” Frank muses. “But, as I tell my staff, when people come in, we want them to feel like they’re coming to our house for dinner.” –Tracy Morin

8 Comments

  1. gregReply
    July 19, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Is that Frank Serpico, or Frank Simoni? lol

  2. Oscar BarryReply
    July 19, 2015 at 10:35 am

    I remember my dad taking me there the first Saturday they were open as we had a business just down the road from Mario’s

  3. BeaveReply
    July 19, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Alright, alright, alright!!!!

  4. markReply
    July 21, 2015 at 3:06 am

    Mario’s was a special treat for our family when I was growing up(60’s-80). My pops favored the spaghetti and I lived for their pizza. Great memories.

  5. Raleigh AdamsReply
    July 21, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Being from Grand Blanc I spent many nights eating pizza here. Just incredible pizza. Was there recently. Nothing has changed. Still great Pizza.

  6. Pastor Raleigh AdamsReply
    July 21, 2016 at 9:03 am

    My wife, who was from Grand Blanc, will tell you that Mario’s has the best Antipasto Salad anywhere. She orders it every
    time we are in town.

  7. DeeReply
    July 22, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    The O’Dea family loves Mario’s! We even have a family member with this name. Mario Ausiello.

  8. Tedd CreamerReply
    March 22, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Hey Frank, you look exactly the same as in the 70’s Lol. You are holding up very well. Lots of great memories.
    From baking cookies in the oven to your dad throwing loaves of bread at me and swearing at me in Italian when I screwed up. Good to see that Mario’s is still rolling along. Keep trying to catch you there when I come up from Florida every year but keep missing you. All the best.
    Tedd

Leave a Reply

Your message*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Name*
Email*
Url