“It’s better to have one race horse than four donkeys.”
Sal Mannino’s grandfather told him this on a visit to Sicily several years ago. Mannino, now the owner of Alfredo’s Pizza in Shippensburg has incorporated this into his restaurant.
Mannino, 40, was born in Brooklyn, New York, moved to Italy in his teens, and returned to the United States as he was becoming a young man. His first job was at Mama’s Pizza, where he worked for his Aunt Tina, and later Uncle Sal.
He eventually stepped up as a store manager in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, and from there bought a failing Mama’s Pizza in Hanover. His influence turned the dilapidated store around.
By the time Mannino was 21 years old, he owned four restaurants. It was during this successful time that he visited his grandfather in Sicily.
Mannino sold all his restaurants to move to Shippensburg and raise his family. During this process, he chose to focus all his efforts on perfecting one restaurant. This localized approach sets Mannino apart from the rest — every person who walks through his door is a member of a community to which he belongs.
Mannino strongly believes in cultivating relationships with his customers. Chains and franchises are not personal, Mannino said.
He said his clientele is built on the principles of family. Mannino tells stories of pregnant women ordering pizza and years later seeing their now-teenaged children eating pizza at the shop. That is the kind of loyalty he is grateful to inspire.
“From mother to daughter and father to son,” Mannino said.
The future holds new prospects for Alfredo’s Pizza. The pizza shop has repeatedly outgrown its location, which has required multiple expansions. It is now at a breaking point with its current location.
“We’re running out of square footage,” Mannino said.
Alfredo’s Pizza, located by Giant Food Stores, will be moving to the empty lot between the Giant and the Dollar Tree in the next few years. Plans have yet to flourish, but Mannino wants to work carefully and get it right.
The location will have two side businesses — an Italian gelato company and a coffee shop to appeal to different niches.
Mannino hopes the new restaurants will bring business to the area and provide local jobs to the community.
Until construction begins, however, it is just him, his pizza and his family.