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It's a labor of love and pizza

It's a labor of love and pizza

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WARRENSBURG — Rooted in a love story that first sparked in San Guiseppe Jato, Italy, the owners of The Pizza Shop have been mixing up thousands of quarts of dough to create nearly a million pizzas since their late December opening a little over three years ago.

And now, Maggie and Giovanni Canepa, along with baby Nico, are about to add a new chapter to their love story when they move into their just completed shop at a new location in early May.

“We are hoping to open the first week of May,” said Maggie, 25, about their new shop at 3918 Main St. “We bought the building last April. We are really excited to have our own shop.”

It was Dec. 29, 2014, when Maggie and Giovanni first opened the doors of The Pizza Shop in a location they were renting. After several setbacks and with just $274 left, they had no idea how they would pay their January rent or the food vendors.

But 15 minutes after opening, their first customer walked in to order two slices and a soda.

“I said, ‘Fifteen minutes from opening and we already have a customer,’ ” Giovanni, 32, said in an earlier interview.

Since that day, they have never had to worry about the rent, winning praise and faithful customers along the way.

The Pizza Shop was honored with Post-Star Best of the Region — first place best pizza; second place best wings; and third place best business dining — and Giovanni was recognized in the newspaper’s “20 under 40 award” ceremony this past September.

Crediting their success to “love,” they say customers often order pizzas made with lots of love.

Baby Nico was born on Dec. 29, 2017, the third anniversary of their 2014 opening.

“I was two weeks late, but he waited for the anniversary,” Maggie said laughing, holding a sleeping Nico in her arms on Wednesday.

Because the young couple believes in connecting with and caring about their patrons, they have formed lasting bonds. So when word of Nico’s pending arrival spread, so did the gifts of hand-knit blankets, booties, sweaters and tiny hats.

One woman was traveling in Italy and saw a beautiful wool yarn for the baby. In a card to Maggie and Giovanni she wrote, “This little Owlie hat is knitted with Italian yarn which I bought in Isernia when our son and wife were pregnant. Every Italian-American Adirondack baby should have an owl hat.”

Maggie said the woman remembered all the details after she spent time talking with them during a summer visit.

“She remembered my due date and she mailed it from NYC,” Maggie said. “It arrived on my due date.”

The Pizza Shop’s famed pies come from a recipe handed down from Giovanni’s grandfather. It’s a recipe that he and his family, most of whom have remained in Italy, use in pizzerias spanning the globe.

Maggie, who is from Lake George, and Giovanni spent their early days together in San Guiseppe Jato Italy, where he owned Jhonny & D Pizza Ristorante.

This past year has been a busy one, but after a complete renovation of their new location, they are almost ready for the Health Department inspection on April 28.

Every detail was considered, from the size of the kitchen and the flow to bigger ovens and a bigger walk-in.

“We barely had 5 feet in the old kitchen for 10 people. Now it is massive,” she said. “And we used to be able to make eight pies at a time, now we can make 12.”

Most impressive is the mural they had local artists Hannah Williams and Rob Harriman create along an entire wall of the shop. In a bold and stunning display, Nikola Tesla, Janice Joplin and Gandhi ignite the dining space.

“It represents science, music and spirituality,” said Giovanni on Wednesday.

Maggie added, “We had about 12 we wanted but narrowed it down to three.”

The Pizza Shop’s old location, also on Main Street, will close Saturday to give the Canepas time to make the move. Giovanni’s parents will be arriving from Italy in June to help with the baby and the new shop, Maggie said.

“We are just overjoyed and grateful for the love and support that we have received from the community since we opened,” said Maggie. “It doesn’t feel like work or business to us; we truly love what we do. The infamous quote often heard, ‘If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life,’ is a reality for us.”

Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli is a features writer at The Post-Star. She can be reached at kphalen-tomaselli@poststar.com for comments or story ideas.

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