Mario’s Restaurant & Pizzeria
Mario Simoni quit his day job at General Motors to start a new life in the pizza business.
Mario 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.
Regardless 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
Is that Frank Serpico, or Frank Simoni? lol
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
Alright, alright, alright!!!!
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.
Being from Grand Blanc I spent many nights eating pizza here. Just incredible pizza. Was there recently. Nothing has changed. Still great Pizza.
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.
The O’Dea family loves Mario’s! We even have a family member with this name. Mario Ausiello.
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.
I’m glad that Marios is still up and running . We all grew up in there. Would love to see you when I come up sometime, Great memories ,Lavora
I remember going there after football or basketball games in the early 70’s. It was always fun even though we were not allowed to “table hop.” We still enjoy going there now. Great food and a great staff!
We start every drive-in season with a Mario’s pizza! Love picking up and driving across the street, our tradition! Personally, i’ve been going there my whole life. Our favorite local Italian restaurant!
My uncle Mario and aunt Margherita worked very hard to make a go of it. They deserve what they have reaped. God bless both of them. Their food is excellent!!
Congrats Marios! Grandma would bring us here for dinner, dad, mom, numerous uncles, aunts, cousins. A true Flint institution to me. You know the food is great when you want to try something different on then menu, but you know for a fact that your usual is going to be amazing. Always bring a friend, so you can try some of their dinner! The atmosphere was always comforting, the staff were always so friendly. Please don’t change a thing Marios!
Our first date was at Mario’s, Friday night GBHS Homecoming football game, October 1966. We have been married 46 years and STILL stop in at Mario’s when we are downstate. They treat us like family when we walk thru the door. How many businesses strive for that kind of atmosphere today? We love the pizza, spaghetti w/meat sauce or antipasto salad. Frank, Sergio and all the staff are carrying on a wonderful family tradition that will NEVER go out of style. Well done, Mario’s, well done!!!
They always had killer pizza,… one of the things I miss while living in Tucson.
love, love, love the meat sauce!…..bring back the Monday night specials please……
I haven’t had as much fun at any other job like I did working at Mario’s!!! Then going on to breakfast after closing was the best!! The memories will be with me forever!!