Local pizza shop grows with its third location


Jurgen Wenzel

Jurgen Wenzel takes a customer’s order at the Revolution Pizza in Willowick.

Jessica Lopez, Guest Writer

Revolution Pizza, a family-owned business, is expanding to Chagrin Falls after already opening two locations in Lake County.  

Owner Ralph Buongiovanni is optimistic that everything will go well with Revolution Pizza opening in Chagrin Falls. He said, “I’ve done the demographics, and I’ve done everything. This isn’t just a jump in the water – this is a calculated risk. We’ve done everything we can do as far as the studies, the population census, the relative distances, peace shops per person, and all that kind of fun stuff.” 

Jurgen Wenzel, the manager of Revolution’s Willowick location, hopes that this new store will bring more people to the restaurant. He said, “The Revolution concepts are currently only in Lake County – we have one in Mentor, and we have one in Willowick, and I definitely think it should bring a different population of people on board. It might not be as many right away, just because of the demographics of where Chagrin is actually located.” 

For Wenzel, flexibility is a big part of being able to have a job at the store. He said, “When hiring and staffing younger people, just like us they have a busy, hectic school schedule, along with other jobs most of the time. So as long as I’m willing to make those sacrifices and work with their flexibility, staffing isn’t really an issue, And that goes along the same lines of compensating people fairly for the work they do and their loyalty.” 

According to Boungiovanni, this expansion is also about helping the local community. He said, “Once you get on the ground level and see how things happen to people, emergency situations happen, and you just kind of have to be ready to help if you can help. And it’s a pleasure, and I think some would say the same thing.”

Wenzel also wants to see the community benefit from the new pizza shop’s success. He said, “Being there whenever the community needs you, whether it’s a medical expense, a medical bill, you know, a lunch that needs to be covered at a certain sporting event or sporting banquet, or just, anything for that reason, it always comes back in a full circle, it’s a win-win scenario. And in almost every single opportunity, every single case, not only do we get our brand out there, but people are trying our pizza and we’re helping the people that live here.”

According to Boungiovanni, it’s a priority for the new Chagrin Falls location to have clear-cut systems in place without hurrying the process.  He said, “We’re not really rushing into things, [so] we’re taking our time to just make sure everything is perfected. For anybody to be able to come in and enjoy their job, and you know, just learn the ropes of managing a local mom and pop shop.”

Other than the three Revolution Pizza locations, Boungiovanni is also the owner of three Villa Italian Kitchen Pizzerias. He said, “I have 15 years of multi, unit experience myself, I know what it takes to get done and just trying to develop my team to manage the five stores, it is gonna be their challenge, along with me overseeing it. I just wanna see how I wanna develop my team to be able to do that as well.” 

Boungiovanni hopes that his business grows more over the next couple of years. He said, “I mean, it’s all about trying to get everybody more money, it’s a tight labor market, and there’s only so much money to give my employees, and no one’s gonna wanna stay around. I just wake up every day and just see where I’m at every single day, and then, some days I’m like ‘Okay it’s time to open a restaurant’, and that’s when I go for it.”

When a company is not going well, Buongiovanni tries an investment opportunity. He said, “We saw that Revolution was for sale in Willowick, and we bought it, and at that time it was mostly, like a side thing that we were thinking of doing, just kind of seeing where it would end up. And then COVID came, and then that became our full-time job, and then all of a sudden, we were in possession of five restaurants.”

Buongiovanni decided to enter the food industry after working in a corporate environment. He said, “There are office workers and the people who are supposedly running the restaurants or working nine to five in the restaurant industry. And then there are the people who are actually on the ground level and seeing how they kind of work on opposite effects, knowing all the uses of experience. I just figured, ‘Hey, maybe I should give it my own shot’.”

During the opening of their first store back on March 1, 2020, Wenzel admits they faced some challenges. He said, “We heard the word, ‘no’ a lot, we had a lot of doubts, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of money lost, especially the first six months, just really focusing on, you know, giving back right away. And, facing obstacles such as the clientele, people not being able to leave their houses, and us having to integrate ways through third parties, such as GrubHub, Doordash, or UberEats, to get our product and get our name back out there after the store was closed for three months.” 

Revolution Pizza has helped the community a handful of times. They hope that with the opening of the store in Chagrin Falls in July, more people will know about the local family business.