VERNON — After a five-year hiatus from the restaurant business, Pedro Rojas returned in 2020, opening Family’s Pizza and Grinders on Hartford Turnpike.
“I used to work for people for 12 years in a restaurant in Cromwell,” Rojas said. “It got boring.”
To get out of his rut, Rojas said he wanted a job with a little more independence, and seven years ago he got his commercial driver’s license.
“I went driving for Coca-Cola,” he said. “I went to drive tractor-trailer trucks.”
After five years of driving for Coca-Cola – which he still does – he said he was inspired to do something that would have a future for his family, so he decided to return to the restaurant business, not as an employee this time, but as an owner.
“I want to do something and what I know is the restaurant,” he said.
“Before, I was in the kitchen. I didn’t know anything about the business before opening here. Then I learned a lot.
As for the type of restaurant he wanted to open, Rojas said he decided to go for what he was familiar with, pizza.
“If you’re a businessman,” he says, “you want to know what’s going to sell. One thing I know is I know how to make pizza and one thing I know for sure is I will sell pizza.
The pizza, a pan-fried Greek pizza, is made from scratch, he said.
“Every day we make dough,” he said. Every day, Rojas or a second employee works making the dough.
His pizza is constructed differently, he says.
“We put the sauce first, then the cheese and toppings on top,” he said.
“Everything is fresh. The sausage, hamburger, it’s not frozen. Everything is fresh.
The menu offers 16 specialty pizzas, including special recipes such as their Buffalo Chicken pizza with blue cheese, American cheese, celery, hot sauce and breaded chicken; the Nacho pizza with chili sauce, corn chips, grated cheddar and mozzarella; and the Hot Dog pizza with chili sauce, sliced hot dog, shredded cheddar, crispy bacon and mozzarella.
The most popular pizzas, Rojas said, are the Family Special with burger, sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers and mushrooms, followed by the Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie.
The menu also includes 20 grilled and cold grinders and five parmesan grinders in three sizes: 8, 12 and 16 inches.
The most popular grinder, Rojas said, is the Family Combo grinder, with cooked ham, pepperoni and salami.
“I like steak and cheese,” he said. “If I have one for lunch, this is it.”
The menu also offers a variety of pasta dishes.
“The lasagna is homemade,” Rojas said. “The meatballs are homemade. We don’t buy it frozen.
The menu also features six flavors of wings, including a secret sauce for their sweet wings, Rojas said he wouldn’t share the recipe.
“I can’t tell you,” he said. “It is so good.”
“This place keeps growing,” Rojas said of the restaurant. “He’s still a baby. Right now it’s healthy and it works.
He said it was tough when they started, especially since they only opened a few months after restaurants were allowed to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s always difficult,” he said. “People came and said, ‘The pizza is phenomenal.’ I give people good things.
As it says on our web page, “From my family to your family”, because it is my family that counts among the employees.