Back Porch Restaurant a family business - Achieving the American Dream
As a young man Joseph Pappalardo, the son of an Italian immigrant, worked in his father’s Manhattan doll factory, not a job of much interest to him. Although he gained a basic understanding of how to run a business, he left the factory to try his hand in the food industry.
Over the years Mr. Pappalardo worked in several supervisory/management positions with many successful companies.
When a new job opportunity came his way, he moved his wife Sally and their six children from their New Jersey home to the rolling hills of Pennsylvania.
For the next couple of years Mr. Pappalardo worked as the director of operations for the fast food chain Winkys.
Unfortunately, the future of Winkys was not looking too bright, thanks to a new and rapdily growing competitor - McDonalds!
In 1970 his fate was about to change when he made the risky decision to purchase one of the oldest buildings in western Pennsylvania, in the small community of Belle Vernon.
This building would become what is now the Back Porch Restaurant – reported in the newspapers as “one of the most romantic restaurants in Pittsburgh”!
History in the Making
For years Joe and Sally Pappalardo had an eye for antiques and often attended local auctions in search for new treasures.
When Mr. Pappalardo discovered a historic abandoned home along the western bank of the Monongahela River, he knew he had to have it. This would be the family’s largest antique purchase to date and the perfect place to house the rest of their treasures.
Working for a business with a questionable future, Mr. Pappalardo decided to take the chance of a lifetime.
With six children counting on them, the Pappalardos poured their lifesavings into reconstructing the historic home and turning it into what is now known as The Back Porch Restaurant.
Secret to Success
With a vision, determination and strong family support the Pappalardos were able to open a charming and successful fine dining restaurant. “We were careful about our money and preparing to open the Back Porch was done over several years. But when we did open, we were debt free,” notes Joe Pappalardo.
Less than twenty years after the Back Porch opened, they were at it again!
A casual dining restaurant was conceived and opened across the street in which they named Speers Street Grill.
Although Joe and Sally are semi-retired, on special occasions you can still find Sally greeting guests and offering the hospitality of the Pappalardo family.
Over the years, the second generation of family has taken over the management of the Pappalardo family businesses. The management team includes son Joe, daughter Jamie, daughter Patty & her husband Greg, daughter Michelle & her husband Chris and long-time family friend David Mendo.
In the past few years they have expanded the family’s enterprise by opening 2 Fine Caterers and expanding their bakery operation to provide their famous desserts and specialty products to families and other businesses in the area.
It is easy to tell that the hard work, dedication and the entrepreneurial skills Joe and Sally Pappalardo passed down to their children. The second generation of the Pappalardo family continues to build a successful family business for themselves and for future generations.
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