Michael Valerio, a Sicilian immigrant who started the Papa Gino's pizza chain, died Wednesday. He was 89.
With help from his brother Gino and other family members, Valerio opened an ice cream and pizza place on Bennington Street at Marion Street in East Boston, originally called Paradise Restaurant, in 1954, using money he had sent home while serving in Korea to his mother - who had saved it for him - according to a 1985 Globe profile.
Valerio switched to just pizza and changed the name to Piece o' Pizza in 1961 and opened several outlets across the Boston area and Brockton. He married Helen, the chain expanded and they changed the name to Papa Gino's in 1969. When Helen and Michael Valerio sold the chain in 1991, they had 220 company-owned Papa Gino's restaurants across New England.
In the 1980s, Valerio, long active in Massachusetts conservative politics, also owned WEEI-AM, when that was Boston's main radio news station and ran a conservative think tank focused on Massachusetts issues in downtown Boston.
Via East Boston News.