Papa Vito’s Pizza a family affair - Republic-Times | News

Papa Vito’s Pizza a family affair

By on December 27, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Pictured are Gerry and Barb Geoppo inside their original Papa Vito’s location at 223 W. Mill Street in Waterloo.
(Sean McGowan photo)

From the humble beginnings of Vito’s Bar in Waterloo in 1991, Papa Vito’s Pizza founders Gerry and Barb Geoppo now have four restaurants to their name throughout the metro-east.

The Waterloo couple is also in the process of franchising their brand out to interested parties as the Papa Vito’s trademark — named after Gerry’s grandfather Baldassare “Vito” Geoppo — draws customers near and far for a slice of pie and a friendly smile. 

While they work toward this expansion, the Geoppos can’t help but look back at the lengthy process of establishing themselves in the community.

“The Gallagher’s building is where we got our start with Vito’s Bar, selling pizzas out of there,” Gerry explained.

Barb brought her tasty family recipes into the business while Gerry drew from his experience from when his father was a part owner of the former Augustine’s Restaurant in Belleville.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” Gerry boasted.

After a brief stint with the bar, the pair felt ready to take their business to the next level. 

The first Papa Vito’s opened at 223 W. Mill Street in Waterloo in 1995.

“We decided we wanted to concentrate more on the food,” Gerry said of the move. “And we were looking for kind of a small place so Barb looked at (our current place) — all it had in it at the time was busted down washers and ugly yellow walls — and said, ‘Hey, I think we can do something with this.’”

Opening their first store didn’t come without initial challenges, as other entrepreneurs in the area began to follow suit.

“You know, the day we opened the Waterloo store, we weren’t in the phone book and no one knew what we were doing here,” Gerry recalled. “But Barb made a big homemade sign that said, ‘Papa Vitos. We deliver…>>>

Read the rest of the story in the December 27  issue of the Republic-Times.

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Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years.