A Pizza Life

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010

For Pat Estep, the pizza business is a way of life. For the most part, it is all the Flatwoods, Ky., native has known since she started working in a Giovanni’s at the age of 18.

“There’s something about pizza that I think you get addicted to,” Estep said. “I don’t know. It’s the spices or something.”

Estep and her former husband, Tom Grant, started a Giovanni’s in Ironton in 1977. The business, now on Park Avenue, had been Gina’s Pizza.

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“For those first four years we worked in it all the time,” Estep said.

Roger and Effie Gillispie started renting the business from Estep and her husband in 1981. They operated the business for 29 years until their retirement early this year. Estep and her husband James Estep, took it back over in January.

“Pizza’s just the thing to be in for the younger generation,” she said. “It’s a way to make money.”

One of the first things Estep and her husband did when they took over the business is add soup, salad and sandwiches to the buffet.

“(I wanted) to help build the bar up,” she said. “Their buffet didn’t do a lot when we came. We tripled our dining room business when we came.”

Other new menu items include chicken alfredo, chicken alfredo pizza, chicken club sandwich, turkey bacon club sandwich and grilled chicken salad.

Besides the Ironton Giovanni’s, Estep owns a quarter of another three Giovanni’s businesses in Ashland, Russell and Flatwoods. Her ex-husband’s sister and brother-in-law Jim and Nancy Lemaster started the pizza chain.

“Giovanni’s is what everyone got used to before those other (pizza) places came in,” she said. “It’s different. There’s just something about it. And I think we have the best sandwiches too.”