Joe Inzone is soft-spoken but about as friendly as they come. He’s often behind the counter shaking hands, smiling and greeting customers by name. He and his brother Sal run the show at Benny’s Pizza and, although most customers who pass through the door may not know, they’re some of the most giving people in this community – almost like West Chester’s own Secret Santa’s. The two are always busy, so we sat down with Joe to learn more about their generosity while Sal prepped for the day and shouted interesting tidbits from the kitchen.
How long have you and Sal been here a t Benny’s? Sal’s been here since the early 80’s, and I’ve been here since 2002.
Well, how did you end up here? I came in and bought out two other people who owned it, so now it’s just Sal and me.
What were you doing before? I was an account administrator for the Vanguard Group in their institutional branch. I handled big companies, not individuals.
Which is better? This one. I had a lot of personal interactions in the old job, but most of that was over the phone, and here I get to interact with people face-to-face. I’m a people person, so I like to interact with our clients. I’ve always been in customer service, but it’s better to be of service to a local client.
Well then I guess you fit right in here. I understand Benny’s has always been very connected to the West Chester community. We used to be the only place that could safely deliver tin the Oak Place projects, and we’re told that, during a riot in West Chester in the 1960’s, Benny’s was the only storefront that was untouched. We have customers that have been coming here for three generations.
With just the two of you running the place, what’re your hours like? Oh geez, I’m in here five to six days a week, often working as much as 14 hours a day. Sal and I try to split up the time, so I’m not here every Friday or Saturday; we switch it up.
But you also have another job, right? I volunteer.
But it does require a significant amount of your time, right? I am a very active member of the Ridge Fire Company. I have worked as a fire police officer for 15 years. So, if there’s a fire in the middle of the night, I get up, hop in my car and rush to the site to help contain the situation and direct traffic. I also run the kitchen at the fire company for the 25 to 30 auctions that are held there each year, I do it so they can keep that money and put it towards the fire company.
Do you do anything for yourself? I believe that by doing things for other people, the reward you get in return will exceed that reward you’d get if you just focused on yourself.
Well, do you have free time? [Laughing] A little. I like to ride motorcycles in my free time.
So, that’s we’re the Chester County Ride for Heroes comes from. Can you tell our readers about that? It’s a ride we started two years ago that benefits the Chester County Hero Fund. The Chester County Hero Fund helps police, EMS and all the volunteers who are injured in the line of duty. The ride goes throughout Chester County and ends up back here at Benny’s Pizza where we offer free pizza and soda to the riders.
But that’s not the only way Benny’s gives back to the community. We’re big on helping police and fire rescue. We donate food to various organizations, like the Firefighters Cadet Camp, whose annual training lunch we cater. We also offer dollar giveback coupons where a dollar of your purchase goes to organizations like the Hero Funs and the SPCA – I’m a big animal lover.