JACKSON TWP. By his own admission, Jimmy Angello’s return to the workaday world of restaurant ownership earlier this year, after three years of retirement, had more to do with financial practicality than a burning desire to get back into the kitchen.
However, the renowned Stark County restaurateur soon found that some of the most valuable rewards of running a business cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
"People I haven’t seen for 15 or 18 years – (customers) from the original Angello’s on Tusc, are coming out of the woodwork," Angello said of the response to Angelo’s 2 Go, which opened Jan. 5 at 5081 Fulton Dr. NW. "That is the most rewarding part – seeing those old customers. They are even driving down from Hartville."
To be sure, Jimmy Angello has owned a few restaurants in his time – from his flagship location at 4905 Tuscarawas St. West, in Perry Township (currently Vincent’s Pastaria), which garnered a loyal following from 1996 through 2007, to the first Angello’s 2 Go location in Hartville, Mojos in Canton, and the 7th Street Café inside Aultman Hospital.
It all started in 1972, Angello said, when the eastside Canton boy hitchhiked to California "in my bellbottoms and boots with stars painted on them," and began working in a bar.
"I liked the socializing, but I didn’t like the element of drunks," he said. "So I decided I would get into the restaurant business. I didn’t even know how to cook; I just took my mother’s recipes."
The difference in the dough
More than two decades later, those homemade pizza and bread recipes had turned Angello into a hot commodity. He returned to his hometown in the mid-1990s and opened the original Angello’s.
"People have always complemented me on the freshness and cleanliness. I use hardly any preservatives or any kind of chemicals in the food," Angello said. "(It is) just homemade food. No different than mom makes. I think people connect with that."
While the new location features some new additions, such as a drive-up window, much of the menu – and all of the Old World approach in the kitchen – will be familiar to long time Angello’s customers.
Regular menu items and daily specials include a variety of wraps and sandwiches, customized sandwich and wrap options, specialty salads, pasta and fish selections, and of course, the pizza – whole or in serving slices the size of a dinner place.
With each item, Angello said, the difference is and always has been in the dough.
"Nobody does it like we do anymore – it is all done on conveyor belts instead of the brick bottom ovens," he said. "It requires so much knowledge to cook in these ovens. You have to turn it around so many times and it takes more time to cook. But you can taste the difference; it’s homemade. Even the sandwiches are on the homemade ciabatta rolls."
Always looking ahead
After 40 years in the restaurant business, and having tried retirement on for size, Angello’s plans for the future of his restaurant are nearly as wide open as were his very beginnings.
"I’ve lived in Jackson for 20 years and I wanted to stay close to home," Angello said. "My partner, Chris Maggiore, owned this building and I thought it was a good location, being close to Belden Village. I have had folks talk about franchising and opening more stores, so I’m keeping my options open. But I am going to get this one completely under control first."
Still, running a restaurant, at least the way Jimmy Angello prefers to, is not for the timid.
"It takes a lot," he said. "I’m going to be 68 in a couple months and I’m working 14 hour days. But that is what it takes to be successful. You have to dedicate your whole life to it. Pleasing people’s palates – that is the most rewarding part. I’m blessed."