2023 !mpact Award Recipient: PIZZA JOE’S / CLASSI-CO FOODS / DAYSTAR MARKETING
Joe “Pizza Joe” Seminara’s long career in hospitality started at his (Uncle) Rocky’s Golden Dawn grocery store on West Washington Street in New Castle and has lasted more than fifty (50) years.
When Joe opened the first Pizza Joe’s restaurant in 1980, he envisioned the business expanding into a chain of eateries bursting with flavor and community spirit. He combined pizza recipes from his Mom Clara and his Aunt Margaret who owned Margie’s Pizza in Youngstown, to create a pie that has thrived for decades. “If you can get people to taste the product, you’ll get customers,” he says proudly.
After a few years of hard work, Joe’s dream came to fruition as he opened shops throughout the New Castle area, with the earliest stores on Highland Avenue, Bessemer, and Shenango Township. In 1985, the first Pizza Joe’s franchise opened in Ellwood City by another Lawrence County native, Albert Ritchie, followed by many franchise operations in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
Now approaching forty-five (45) years in business, Pizza Joe’s remains committed to providing quality projects and services to its customers and being an integral part of each community. Joe is proud of our region. “I love it here. We have different ethnic groups of people who come together. It’s a great place to live and do business.”
Early in the Pizza Joe’s story, Joe made a commitment to share the company’s success with others in the community by supporting schools, clubs, sports teams and other non-profits through raffle donations and give-back events. Forty years later that same commitment remains as strong as ever.
Classi-Co Foods is the parent company for thirty-eight (38) Pizza Joe’s locations in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and a sister company to Daystar Marketing, which specializes in custom artwork and screen-printed apparel for businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, bands, sports teams, and individuals.
Joe’s children are visible in many aspects of the business today. Daughters, Jessica Seminara-Tomczyk and Katie Seminara-DeToro, both wear many hats at Classi-Co Foods and also provide support to the three (3) locations still owned by Joe --State Street, Highland and Croton Ave. Joe’s son, Andrew and daughter-in-law Chelsie Seminara manage the Croton Ave location and have administrative roles with Classi-Co respectively. Jessica’s husband, Joel Tomcyzk, is the operator of Highland Pizza Joe’s. Joe’s wife of nearly 50 years, Laurie Seminara, is a retired special education teacher, who is frequently at the original location mingling with customers. Together Joe and Laurie serve on a number of community boards and are active members of First Presbyterian Church downtown.
Pizza Joe’s embraces its core values of Satisfaction, Responsibility, Generosity and Pride in everything they do. They attribute the continued success to staying true to those values and having a supportive team of franchisees and employees who have been with them for many years, a number since the very beginning, including co-owners of Classi-Co Foods, Rob Pyle and Albert Ritchie.
As Joe says, “You have to get into your business with your whole heart and soul.” He adds proudly, “We have six (6) grandchildren now. We’ve been blessed for forty-three (43) years.”