Last month, Pizza by Elizabeths celebrated 25 years in business—a fact owner Besty LeRoy is still trying to process. “‘It feels like it went by in a blink,” she says. “If it were five years, that would feel about right. Plus, I’m not that old,” she laughs.
LeRoy and former partner Betty Snyder opened in a small space with 13 tables in 1993. Neither had experience in the restaurant biz, but they did have experience with Friday pizza nights at home, when their children chose the toppings. The restaurant let customers do the same, from a menu of unusual sauces and toppings such as pesto, mushroom duxelles, prosciutto, artichoke hearts and various cheeses. Diners loved it, and, thanks to attention from outlets like The Food Network and big food magazines—the place quickly grew so popular, it had to expand into an adjacent space five years later.
It didn’t take long for PBE to outgrow that space, too, so 10 years ago it moved into the beautiful 125-seat restaurant it is today. Over the years, LeRoy and Snyder added a menu of salads, then a bigger wine list, then a few appetizers and a selection of desserts.
“But we always wanted to be the pizza specialists, and for years we stayed that,” LeRoy says. “We really resisted being something for everyone.” After 15 years, she says, the time had come to shake it up a little. PBE may have added entrée specials, its own beer and a new generation of regular customers who love the friendly atmosphere and family-like staff, but pizza-your-way remains the foundation.
“It’s just been so much fun, and I have the best employees in the world,” LeRoy says. “If we were in business just to make money, we would have folded 20 years ago. All I want now is for everyone here to continue doing what the do for as long as they want.”
Cheers to that.