The Pizza House
Serving up award-winning pizzas and heartwarming welcomes, customers from far and wide flock to this home away from home in Columbus, Ohio.
Two cousins, Richie Dorn and Bobby Tiberi, didn’t have a bunch of restaurant experience when they opened up The Pizza House in 1961—but they did have a family pizza recipe they knew would be a smash hit. Their original location opened in an actual house in Columbus, Ohio, with two tables and a couple of counter stools, and business took off despite the humble digs.
A kid named William Colasante was one of their first employees, starting at 15 years old and working there until the early ’80s. He and his wife, Diane, opened their own business in Columbus, a popular nightclub. Meanwhile, in 1990, The Pizza House completed a massive move that found the small original—at less than 1,000 square feet—relocating across the street to a building five times its size. When Dorn and Tiberi decided to retire in 1991, William gladly stepped in to buy the now-sizable pizzeria.
“Some things were added to the menu when it moved to the bigger location, but my dad wanted to keep everything the same,” recalls Rodd Carmean, William’s stepson. “All of the recipes to this day are the originals from Richie and Bobby. It’s traditional Italian food, and pizza is our No. 1 seller.” Rodd, of course, grew up in the business, starting by dishwashing and working his way around every job possible. In 2017, he assumed full ownership with his wife, Tomi, whom he’d taken to the pizzeria for their first date (they’ve now been married 31 years).
Today, The Pizza House’s food regularly wins awards in the area, and sales stats show that a whopping 20% of customers drive 25 miles or more just to eat there. Though the pizzeria maintains an old-school vibe with retro decor and no delivery service, the Carmeans have also kept up with the times, adding social media accounts handled by outside experts and building a brisk catering business that serves local corporations. “We hear a lot about the dough—people say, ‘Pizza House has a unique taste,’” Tomi says. “I think that’s another thing that’s given us longevity: We’ve not changed anything, even as costs go up. You’ve got to stick with your recipes.”
Rodd believes that another key secret to The Pizza House’s success comes down to customer interaction. A 15-year veteran hostess greets every diner with a hug, and Rodd estimates that he knows more than half of his customers by name. “We treat everyone like family—much of our staff has been here a long period of time, so they know the customers,” Rodd explains. “We treat everyone like they’ve been coming in forever, even if it’s their first time.”
Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.