The beginning of my childhood and the first memories I have revolved around the family business, Kapanek’s Pizzeria. My grandpa ran one on Bailey Ave in Buffalo, while my parents ran the other on Seneca St in West Seneca. We lived next door for a few years, and my siblings and I spent our summers between the backyard, the pizzeria, and the park. I have fond memories of running around there as a kid, helping to knead dough when they let me, and eating my favorite turkey sub when they were trying to keep us out of their hair. I remember being upset when I had to go to the babysitters because I was too young to help unload the delivery truck.
While the pizzerias closed before I reached second grade, the memories that I have are still some of the fondest of my childhood. Fast forward 20 years, and the signs from the pizzeria were still being stored in my Aunt and Uncle’s rafters. Because Dan and I had plenty of space in our garage, and wanted to incorporate a bit of family history into our outdoor space, we decided to take them on. There were two signs, and they were a lot bigger than anticipated.
We decided to add one to the decor of our garage, and store the other. Dan had a great idea of adding lights behind the sign. While the bright white of the sign had faded over the years, the lights would help to bring it back to life.
When the pizzeria was passed on to new owners, there was one thing left behind, the family’s “dough boy” neon light. This icon from the pizzeria was proudly named Uncle Danny, in honor of my dad’s uncle/grandpa’s brother. For whatever reason, the sign stayed with the pizzeria, and has sat in the window as the building changed ownership over the course of the last twenty years. Our family still drives by a lot, as my Nana lives right around the corner from there. Around Christmas-time, we all noticed that the building appeared vacant, though Uncle Danny still sat in the window. Little did I know my Dad was devising a plan to get it back. After multiple phone calls and visiting neighbors, he was able to get a hold of the owner, and work out a deal to bring the sign back into the family. My parents stopped over that night and surprised us with the best housewarming gift we could have ever received. And that sign now hangs proudly in our garage.
We added to signs on either side of Uncle Danny that were also from the pizzeria, kept in my parent’s basement all this time. Five and a half years ago, I had them restored and gifted them to Dan for his 21st birthday. Its exciting to finally have a place to put everything,. keeping the family tradition alive and well.