As Joe Pagano Jr. settles into his new location on Route 48 in Southold, he can’t help but notice the familiar faces streaming into the pizza shop.
“It’s good to be back,” said Mr. Pagano, the owner of Pagano’s, which was formerly Cheesy Charlie’s Pizzeria. “When people come in to say hello and find out what happened, I tell them, ‘I told you I’d make it back. It just took me longer than expected.’ People see the sign and say they thought we moved to Greenport.”
Mr. Pagano’s father, Joseph, still operates That Little Italian Place in Greenport, where he moved the business from Main Street in Southold three years ago.
The younger Pagano joined his father in Greenport, biding his time until he could secure another Southold location with help from the family.
Cheesy Charlie’s owner Sophia Cartselos announced her retirement in early October, when she told the Suffolk Times she planned to sell the location to the Pagano’s.
“I wish the Pagano family the best of luck,” Ms. Cartselos said at the time. “And I’d like to thank each and every one of my customers for giving me the chance to cook for them and make their pizza over the last 26 years.”
She ran the pizzeria with her brother and the business’s namesake, Charlie, until he died last May at age 45.
Mr. Pagano, 35, said while he’s seen many familiar faces during the past two months the pizzeria has been open, there have been plenty of new customers as well.
“There’s a whole different clientele on this side of town,” he said. “There’s a lot of traffic on 48 from people running to and from the ferry, so I see people I normally would never see.”
And there’s another difference that Pagano’s loyalists are still getting used to — pizza delivered to their door.
“The store came equipped to deliver, but a lot of my loyal customers are still picking it up,” he said. “They’re not used to having it delivered.”
It may be different, but Mr. Pagano said he’s not afraid of a little change, especially when the business remains the same.
“I love everything about this business — when it’s fast and busy and hot, and I love meeting all different types of people,” he said. “And if you’re wondering if I think it’s going to work out here, then the answer is yes, it’s gonna work.”