MOUNT VERNON — Dirko’s Pizza will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this week.
The pizzaria has been in Mount Vernon for 18 of those 30 years and in its current location for the last nine years. The family-run business found its roots in Columbus.
The business was started in 1980 by Beverly Bertoia and her husband, Pete. Both had been in the pizza business before starting Dirko’s at Papa Joe’s.
Dirko’s found its start in Mount Vernon in 1989, when Beverly and Pete sold a Dirko’s franchise which was located at the Corner Grill in Mount Vernon.
“That was on South Main Street,” Bertoia said. “When we ventured up here in 1988, we dealt with Jeff Boucher. That building has now been torn down. Jeff sold the building and then they [the new building owners] sold it. I had had three different landlords so I decided to move here where we are now. I had bought the Dirko’s franchise back with my son, Dean, and Pete, my husband.”
When those three bought the Mount Vernon Dirko’s franchise, Donn Parker, one of Bertoia’s sons bought the original Dirko’s in Columbus. That restaurant was on Cleveland Avenue.
“I ran that one for about five years,” Parker said. “The area started to go down hill. So 10 years ago I got out of that business and Mom, Pete and Dean offered me a chance to help run the new pizza shop. They were getting a new place and needed the help. So I came up here and started to help run it. Mom, Pete, Dean and I renovated the place ourselves.”
“And I’ve just fallen in love with Mount Vernon,” Bertoia said. “And now most of my grandchildren are all here. I’ve had five children follow me up here. Mount Vernon is a little slice of heaven.”
Bertoia and Parker think the success of Dirko’s is based on a very simple idea.
“Everything here is homemade,” explained Bertoia. “We don’t buy the frozen dough like others.”
“And I think it’s also because we are family owned and operated,” said Parker. “We have a family member here all the time. Whether it’s my stepdad, Pete, or my brother, Dean, the owner or his son, Zeb, or my sister, Dene, we always have someone here.”