Once the home to Bill and Bessie’s and Alfred’s Steak House, Pizza Inn has called 1586 North Broad Street in Tazewell, Tenn., home since July 1981 when local resident Jamey Brown opened the doors to the franchise.
Brown originally had several partners but eventually became the sole owner. He had worked his way up as an employee in a different pizza chain prior to going into business for himself. In 1998, he hired a young woman whom, unbeknown to either of them, would follow in his footsteps.
Lea Roy began working the salad bar and later went on to work at the register before becoming a dishwasher, a cook and eventually store manager.
In April 2012 Roy purchased the business from Brown, who had just opened another Pizza Inn in Knoxville.
“He was really blessed with an opportunity and he passed that on to me,” explained Roy.
Roy acknowledges how local businesses — hers included — are dealing with a declining economy and rising cost of living and doing business.
“Nobody is immune to it,” said Roy.
Within the past several years, Roy says they have had to deal with their fair shares of struggles. First, they had to put a new roof on the entire restaurant after numerous leaks began causing issues. Next, restaurant food staples such as cheese, oil and flour had two major cost increases — a cost Roy has refused to pass on to her customers.
With a staff of 39 dedicated employees and about 95 percent of her customers being repeat business, Roy credits the restaurant’s continued success to everyone around her.
“We have the best customers and employees that anyone, anywhere, could ask for,” said Roy.
Roy has several employees with whom she has worked side by side for years. Store manager Travis Adams has been an employee for nine years and fellow employees Carrie Litton and Connie West have been with Pizza Inn for nearly two decades. The camaraderie among co-workers is another attributing factor to the store’s continued success.
“Everything here is a team effort,” explained Roy. “That is what sets us apart; we treat each other like family.”
Along with the sense of family, the Pizza Inn staff has a great sense of community and everyone tries to give back when they can. Recently Pizza Inn hosted a benefit for Carley Hall. Hall is a young cancer patient and Bell County country singer Jimmy Rose performed at the restaurant for the benefit, which raised over $2,000 for Hall and her family.
In a continuous effort to help the community, Roy and her crew have been hosting “Dough Raisers” every Monday night. Local non-profit organizations help the staff work and in return they receive 10 percent of the sales and all tips.
Pizza Inn is open seven days a week with the buffet open daily from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Breakfast pizzas can be ordered beginning at 8 a.m. and pizza can be picked up until 10 p.m. through the week and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
To schedule a “Dough Raiser” or other event or to place an order call 423-626-7258.
Reina P. Cunningham may be reached at 606-302-9100.