Denver Post : Your Hub October 19, 2012

Business Focus: Mama Lisa’s Little Italy, Castle Pines

Giving back to the community a big part of what they do at Mama Lisa’s Little Italy

 

How did you get involved in this business?
I’ve worked in restaurants since I was 14. My first job was baking pies and bread at the local Amish restaurant where I grew up in Plain City, Ohio. My husband and I moved to Castle Pines in 1999 and could not get a pizza delivered to our house. I vowed to open the first mom-and-pop pizzeria in our area, and did in January 2002.

What distinguishes you from other businesses in your category?
The “baby pepperoni” is incredible and unique to our restaurant. We are the only pizzeria to carry this product in Colorado and it is trucked in just for us. It has amazing peppery spice, it cups and chars just a little when we bake it on the pie. Our Italian sausage is brought in locally. We bake it and slice it — no frozen tasteless pellets here. We bake our own bread daily. Our meat and vegetables are sliced fresh daily, nothing comes from a commissary. We are nut-free and have gluten-free options, including pizza. Our dinner dishes are family recipes. The meatballs with rigatoni in a spicy cream sauce was a dish I only made for my husband until he allowed me to add it to the menu. We give to our community. And give, and give and give. It’s something my accountant scolds me for every year. We have donated over $75,000 worth of gift certificate to our local schools and libraries over the past 10 years. We sponsor reading programs, honor rolls and any educational program in our local elementary school that I can get my hands on. Just this spring we worked with Douglas County Libraries and sponsored their spring reading program. Each child received a free 7-inch cheese pizza for completing the program. To date, we have made more than 7,000 free 7-inch cheese pizzas for these happy kids. We work with The Women’s Family Crisis and Outreach Center. We donate meals, cash and auction items every year. We provide healthy school lunches daily for local charter and private schools.

What do you like best about your line of work?
Making a positive impact on our community. Giving back. I am happy that I am in a position that I can have a positive relationship with my community.

What is your business’ biggest challenge?
We are a small family-owned establishment. It is hard to compete with larger, chain restaurants that get better food prices and terms from their suppliers. Keeping food costs reasonable and high quality products is a daily challenge. Labor is always a challenge in this industry.

Something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business:
We offer breakfast. Most people to don’t associate pizza places with breakfast. We give more than 20 percent of our sales back to our community and local schools each year. I have a master’s degree in teaching. I cook at home, too, almost every night. I just like to cook!