Piezon’s Pizzeria Becomes an Omaha Neighborhood Staple
On the menu at Piezon’s Pizzeria in Omaha, you’ll find the classic Italian American staples: calzones, subs, sandwiches and, above all else, pizza. Behind the counter and sometimes standing next to the oven, you’ll find the restaurant’s owner, former football player for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, two-time college football national champion and Grand Island native Matt Vrzal.
The pizza you’ll find at Piezon’s resembles the thin-crust style you might find in a New York pizzeria and is hand crafted when you order.
“We make our own dough, shred our own cheese, season our own meats and we even have our own sauce recipe,” Matt explained. “It’s pretty much as hands-on as we can get when we make our pizzas.”
That’s the kind of homemade quality that has made Piezon’s Pizzeria a fixture of the Omaha community and has allowed it to grow from a small carry-out-only location to the dine-in location they are in currently.
Building a Neighborhood Establishment from the Crust Up
Growing up in Grand Island, Matt’s father played softball, so he and his sister often spent time in small-town bars after his games. Those positive experiences eventually led him to partial ownership of two bars and a pizzeria in Lincoln when he was 24 years old.
“They were always fun places, and the people were good to each other,” Matt said.
After 10 years, he decided to sell off his shares in those establishments and go to work as a financial advisor, but he didn’t stay long. Shortly after he decided to leave the suit-and-tie world of finance, he and a few business partners decided to open Piezon’s.
At that time, Matt started coaching football at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, and it was in that same neighborhood that Piezon’s opened as a small, 1,000-square-foot, carry-out location. Matt says that at the time, the neighborhood just didn’t have much going for it.
“Every neighborhood needs to have a place where people just care about each other,” Matt said. “And that’s what we aim to do. We have a lot of regulars and I like my staff to know something about each of them. That neighborhood feel is important to us.”
Five years after opening, Piezon’s quadrupled in size and outgrew the carry-out location. Wanting to stay true to their neighborhood, they moved into a 3,000-square-foot, dine-in location just a few doors down in the same strip mall.
Their menu has grown along with the business and Matt has encouraged creativity with the names of the pizzas. Many of them are staples of any pizza joint, but have been renamed after family, friends, former teammates and even some employees that have been with Piezon’s from the very beginning. One such pizza is called, “The Dave.”
“During the day, I wait tables and customers will ask, ‘Who’s Dave?’ and I can point at him and say, ‘That’s Dave right there at the oven,’” Matt explained. “It’s just another fun way to keep the small neighborhood feel going.”
Hands-On Service from a Neighborhood Banker
Matt may have a financial background, but with the help of his commercial banker, Kelly Grefe from Northwest Bank, he is able to keep his focus right where he wants it: on the pizza and the people. The working relationship between Matt and Kelly was an instant success.
“I’m a big relationships guy. The first time I met Kelly, I could tell he was laid back, and I could see that he knew what he was doing,” Matt said. “He takes a lot of things off my plate and their team is always a phone call away when I need help.”
That hands-on, quick service was never more critical than when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the Paycheck Protection Program became available to small business owners. Matt said that they applied for the loan on a Friday night and they knew by the next day that they were approved. With this help, they were able to keep serving the neighborhood and the people Matt cares so much about amid a lot of uncertainty.
Motivated by People and Serving the Neighborhood
By now, it’s no secret that Matt’s motivation is serving the people of the Omaha neighborhood that Piezon’s Pizzeria calls home. A working relationship with a commercial banker at Northwest Bank has allowed him to put all his energy toward that motivation.
Contact a commercial banker from Northwest Bank today to learn how we can help you achieve your business goals.
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