Pizza John’s: A Symbol of the American Dream

Essex institution shows how three brothers can start with nothing and build a highly successful business.

By Keith Roberts (, 10/2/2011)

“…John Coruzzi’s story is truly the story of the American dream come true. John immigrated to America from his native Italy when he was only 16 years old. In 1950, he obtained employment in east Baltimore as a baker. He followed that with a 10-year career as a pizza maker for Squires Café in Dundalk.

While enjoying the work at Squires, Coruzzi always had the urge to go into business for himself. That opportunity came in 1966 when with no one by his side, he opened Pizza John’s carryout at 131 Back River Neck Road. Within months, John was joined by his brother Peter, who immigrated from Italy to help run the business. A year later youngest brother Anthony joined the team.

The business took off like gangbusters. In no time at all the number of employees had grown to almost 20. On weekends, the line of hungry customers for the carryout would consistently run out the door of the 600-square-foot building and onto the sidewalk.

Pizza John’s had gained a reputation for using only the freshest ingredients and serving only the highest quality product.

By 1976, the brothers had decided the location no longer provided adequate room for growth and expansion so they began looking for other sites. In 1977, Pizza John’s moved into a new 2,500-square-foot building just a few hundred yards down the street at 113 Back River Neck Road.”

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